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Need For Change Of Attitude By Eritreans

Attitude is little thing that makes a big difference—Winston Churchill

What is attitude?

According to Wikipedia, attitude is the evaluation and associated belief and behavior towards some objects. It is not stable and because of the communication and behavior of the people, it is subject to change by social influence.

Attitude can be changed through persuasion. Emotion is a common component in persuasion; social influence, and attitude change. Much of attitude research emphasized the importance of affective or emotion components. Emotion works hand-in-hand with the cognitive process, or the way we think, about an issue or situation.

While this is the scientific definition of the term attitude, one can ask a question: What are the attitudes of the Eritrean society towards the PFDJ regime? Obviously, the attitude of the Eritrean people towards the regime is divided into two groups. The first part which is the majority of the people defines the regime as dictatorial and totalitarian and believes that it should be replaced by a just and democratic system. Unfortunately, the second part accepts the regime more or less as legitimate and believes that it is doing good for the people. This group wishes the regime to stay as it is and it stands against the on-going struggle. Here one may raise another question: Which part is right? Both can’t be right. Nor can both be wrong.

The objective situation of the Eritrean society can answer this question. It is not a matter of judgment. It is an objective reality. The majority of the Eritrean people are suffering from the totalitarian regime. The Eritrean people, especially those who live in side the country don’t have any right. So many people are imprisoned or missing every day. The country is changed into prison camps. The PFDJ regime has ruled the country without any constitution or rule of law for 20 years. Almost one third of the population is living in exile. Tens of thousands are living in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan. Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world and its leader ranks first as a dictator in the world. This evaluation was not made by Eritreans alone but by independent media of the world. Therefore, the supporters of the Eritrean regime cannot justify their support for this evil regime.

While the regime in Asmara is so naked in its subversive act against its people in front of the world, why are some Eritreans still supporting it? This is important question that should be addressed.

This group can be divided again into two parts. The handful who benefit from the regime and those who are innocent but wrongly acting against their interest. Leaving the first one aside and taking the second, the majority of this group is innocent. They have been deceived by an empty nationalism. On the eyes of this group, the PFDJ regime is “the most nationalist”. The regime has brainwashed them by saying that “the EPLF is the sole organization which struggled for the independence of the country”. While in reality the ELF had equally contributed for the Eritrean independence. In fact many Eritreans fail to realize that other Ethiopian democratic organizations like the TPLF, OLF etc. had also equally contributed in defeating the DERG.

The supporters of the regime need a change of attitude. These people must realize that one cannot be a nationalist by defending dictatorship. In fact these people have to realize that Isaias is destroying the nation. Eritreanism without an educated young generation has no future. These people have to be persuaded that they are defending the despotic regime, acting against their interest.

Another instrument of the PFDJ regime which deceives the people is the idea of “enemies”. It creates enemies easily. The regime created conflicts with Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. Especially, Ethiopia is portrayed as “number one enemy of the Eritrean people”. This false propaganda serves the regime’s policy of the Sawa military training camp. The regime brainwashes the people day and night by saying “if I stop Sawa the enemy will come and occupy your country”. In addition the PFDJ regime uses this propaganda for another purpose. Opposition organizations or individuals who fight the regime based in Ethiopia are labelled “traitors”. This propaganda is designed purposely in order to isolate the opposition forces from the people.

The main point here is that an effort has to be made to change the attitude of the ‘HIGDEF’ supporters towards their regime. There must be a change of attitude in the minds of these people before an actual change takes place. We have to fight the indoctrination and ideas of Isaiasism systematically.

Another attitude which has to be changed within the supporters of the Eritrean regime is chauvinism because chauvinism leads to racism. They believe that they are the most educated while they are not. They think they are the richest while they are poor . They consider their regime the strongest of all while in reality it is the weakest in all aspects: call it economically, politically and militarily. They don’t see that it as an isolated regime which is struggling for its survival.

As mentioned above, attitude can be changed through persuasion. Efforts must be done to change the wrong attitude of the supporters of regime. They have to understand clearly that the existence of the regime in Asmara benefits no one except creating misery and slavery. The Eritrean people don’t have any interest from this regime except misery and slavery. The supporters of the regime should understand clearly how the odd leader (Isaias) is isolated from the rest of the world. He is isolated from the African Union, IGAD, the United Nation etc. There is no advantage supporting a loosing regime .

There must be a change of attitude in the opposition camp too. Generally speaking the Eritrean struggle is characterized by less tolerance and stubbornness. It is dominated by internal conflicts. Even today if we observe the contemporary relationship among the various opposition organizations and parties, their time and energy is wasted in bickering with each other and splitting from one another. Most of them concentrate on minor issues. Basically their priorities tend to be party or organizational issues. Despite all these it was possible to form the ENCDC in the recent AWASA congress.

The vast majority of the Eritrean society is vacillating between the PFDJ regime and the opposition camp. The majority of this group are the highlanders (from Kebessa). Most of them want the downfall of the regime. But at the same time they don’t trust the opposition organizations and parties. I wonder  why! They want a change. But who will bring the change? By just sitting and observing, things cannot be changed. The people who have such attitude have two choices: a) either they create an alternative opposition b) or they join the existing opposition forces and improve the politics of the organizations or parties.

Dear reader! I have another amazing idea to share with you. I have been in Addis Ababa for almost a year working in a capacity building program initiated and financed by the Dutch government. It is not based on scientific research, but according to my personal observation, 70% to 80% the Eritrean community in Addis Ababa are sympathizers of the PFDJ regime. The first time I had observed this phenomena was really shocking to me. What is the reason behind this? It is paradox. In spite of the fact that they live nearer to Eritrean and they get daily information about  how the regime oppresses the people and they see tens of thousands people coming from the country as refugees, yet they have positive attitude towards the regime! Another paradox is that the various Eritrean opposition organizations and parties are located here and yet these organizations could not change the mentality of these people.


One of the important instruments which is used in promoting change of the public attitude is mass media. The media outlets such as  Eri-TV, Radio Dimtsi Hafash, Hadas Eritrea etc. hammer the minds of the victims day and night. On the contrary, one of the weaknesses of the opposition organizations and parties is poor media rely to the public. Today the opposition camp  have  a golden opportunity because it is united to fight the dictatorship by forming a common program and a common leadership under the National Council. Now it is up to the executive body of the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC) to implement the program. It is time to centralize the dispersed resources of the various political organizations and parties and implement the following key resolutions passed at the Awassa congress :

1. The different military units run by different organizations must be brought under one command.

2. The political and diplomatic activities should be conducted under the leadership of the ENCDC.

3. The media coverage should be coordinated and controlled by the ENCDC.

4. The financial resources should be centralized and controlled by the ENCDC.

These are the main responsibilities of the leadership of the ENCDC given by the congress. If these tasks are fulfilled, I believe progress will be made and the defeat of the PFDJ regime will not be far away.


About Adhanom Fitwi

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  • Berhane

    First let me thank Adhanom for raising this significant issue regarding attitude so candidly and courageously, save the validity of his statistical figures.
    I think we need to substantiate our statements with empirical data, like what Adhanom tried to when he mentioned the contributions of the ELF and the OLF (to which one may add: the SLM, EPRP, even the ostensibly monarchist EDU.
    The Ethio-Somalia war, the hundreds of millions of dollars that went from the ERD to ERA, ORA and REST (Without Troops & Tanks by John Prendergast and Mark Duffield, Red Sea Press), the collapse of the USSR, the use of Sudanese territory as the EPLF’s 2nd line of defence (e.g. Amberbeb, Arerib, Agig etc), not to mention the huge financial support from the Middle East, partly through the late Osman Salih Sabe (Allah yerHamu) coupled with the Ethiopian peoples’ dissatisfaction with the Dergue, to the extent that Dergue had to summarily execute nine of its prominent military generals were factors.
    Of course, the heroism and tenacity of the EPLF realised the independence. Despite the above facts, “the self reliant EPLF did it alone, without any body’s help” is almost accepted as a “fact” by ‘reverberation’.
    I must point out that I’m not against anyone who was in the EPLF. Two of my brothers were in it as combatants, to say the least. My misgivings are against its top leads that were economical with the truth. As our young philosopher, Yoseph Ghebrehiwot noted, the EPLF took and now the PFDJ has been taking “a big margin of error” intentionally.
    This notion of “we did it alone” is only one aspect of the attitude/ tradition or norm that the EPLF/PFDJ has promoted systematically to the detriment of mainly the innocent and unexposed young trainee who were confined to Sawa and its satellite labor ‘camps’ as Ambassador Adhanom would call them. Thus, may I suggest for a conference to address the whole idea of culture based, as I said on tangible facts?
    Best wishes

    • Berhane,

      It is good observation. But, remember it is arrogance what it took us to all these malaise. I don’t think we can clean attitudes by conferences from the mind of Eritrean people. We have to start from scratch to teach our young that the “culture of arrogance” is debilitating social ill, and that they should be protected from being contracted of this illness.

  • Kokhob Selam

    I got lessons from the article and comments. but things seems to me a bit complicated. The writers intenstion is very good and I wish if presented again in better way by expanding it with the comments given and make it rich.

  • yohannes

    mr. saleh, most eritreans are not sincery on what they say, go ask those eritreans has been accepted as rifugi, once in europe oe in america they are with the regime. we have to agree with this

  • haile

    What is attitude?
    A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli). Four major components of attitude are (1) Affective: emotions or feelings. (2) Cognitive: belief or opinions held consciously. (3) Conative: inclination for action. (4) Evaluative: positive or negative response to stimuli. Read more: @http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/attitude.html#ixzz1mNrZGNsY

    To learn about Influencing attitude and changing behaviour read: Influencing Attitudes and Changing Behavior: A Basic Introduction to Relevant Methodology, Theory, and Applications (Philip; Ebbe B. 1970)

    Quick abstract of the book:

    In this introductory text to the field of attitude change, the emphasis is on one of the end products of research in social psychology–manipulation and control of attitudes and related behaviors. The text first defines the concept of attitude, then identifies ideas from the areas of history, literature, law, religion, and the social sciences that explore concepts of attitude change. It examines the experiment as a source of general information and reviews some representative studies. A critical analysis of the conceptualization, methodology, and interpretation of attitude change research is given, along with an examination of the role of theory in explaining the results of experiments. In considering practical applications of principles of attitude and behavior change, the text details such real life examples as psychological warfare, prejudice, police interrogation, consumer motivation, and supersalesmanship. Five appended essays deal with: techniques of attitude measurement, experiment as a source of information, sources of invalidity in experimental designs, an efficient method for outlining experiments, and the student as an agent of political and social reform. (See: ERIC @ http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED054640&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED054640)

    • Adhanom

      Saleh, Eyob and Emanuel,
      Thank you for your constructive comments. As Saleh said, I think he is right. I shouldn’t use digits unless it is supported by statistical data. It is my imagination. However, many Eritrean residents of Addis Ababa( I mean only in Addis Ababa, some commentators meant in Ethiopia) have positive attitude towards the PFDJ regime rather than the opposition.
      As to the comments of Haile, thank you for your reference. Actually, I did not see any difference in quality than in quantity to what I quote on the definition. One can write pages or even a book on attitude.
      AS to his first comment, sorry to say I found it rubbish. I always criticize the opposition but I fight the regime. All my readers know me that I am one of the strongest supporters of the opposition but with a constructive criticism. My categorizing the opposition camp in groups is I think very clear to the readers too. But if it goes on personal criticism associated with party politics is another thing. We are tired of that sort of criticism. I guess I know him which one Haile is. By the way there are many Hailes.
      As to the pen name of yien(blind supporter of the regime), I want to tell him that the objective of my article is to eliminate such characteristics the way you criticize me. “HIGDEF’s politics is personal attack. Who to the heel cares about Adhanom’s behavior? The issue is about the idea what he writes. Whether I smoke or what I eat is my personal right. I think it is time for you to think about your suffering people rather than blindly supporting a dying regime.

      • haile

        Dear Adhanom;

        Pathetic attitudes are not in keeping with greatness. While trying to preach change of attitude to others, please see below the one’s you hold dear for life:

        “…many Eritrean residents of Addis Ababa( …) have positive attitude towards the PFDJ regime rather than the opposition”

        “…As to the comments of Haile, … Actually, I did not see any difference in quality than in quantity to what I quote on the definition”

        “AS to his first comment, sorry to say I found it rubbish”

        “I guess I know him which one Haile is…”

        “All my readers know me that I am one of the strongest supporters of the opposition…”

        “I think it is time for you to think about your suffering people rather than blindly supporting a dying regime…”

        The only disability in life is a bad attitude. And remember, Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.


  • yien

    Have you been smoking Dutch ganjaa or something like that sir…? Are you telling us that the exodus deportation didn’t take place under the present regime, or you mean that all Eritrean population in Ethiopia are just migrants and businessmen. Don’t you think your flawed story is misplaced and condemning all the refugees who just escaped the terrible regime in Asmara? By the way, if this was your part of the Dutch financed job to do in Addis, like the Dutch adage, say it…it is an expensive joke.

    [From Moderator: Yien, guess you are new, so we are giving you the benefit of doubt. This forum is doing really well because we try really hard to keep the conversation civil. Please don’t make us show you the door.]

  • Selam Eyob:

    “we are the ones who are fools and ignorant for not understanding that arrogance and chewing more than we can swallow are our follies.” The quote of the day. And how true it is ! especially with our erudite. I couldn’t agree more. Look, I could sense these traits even with those I could count on them during this difficulty times. I could assure you without doubt that, even those in the opposition camp, whether they are organized or not, are not better than the regime in this regard (in terms of arrogance).

    Interestingly enough, the “arrogance syndrome” we have can be eradicated with generational paradigm shift. Those of us who understood this intractable social behavior need to spreed the teaching about this behavioral syndrome to our young, in an effort to sterilize them from this despicable disease. We need a process of healing. The process indeed, if I may call it “synoptic redemption”…. the only reliable path to our redemption.” Cognizant to this process and without going into the historicity of our ailing, synoptic redemption is an inerrant description to our path.

    Arrogance perpetuates problem – a crises of identity and the cause of infrastructural disintegration of a society. Arrogance becomes ground zero of Eritrean crises of identity. And yes it is one of the failing cultural identity markers, and its effects on cognitive dissonance and social identities is remarkable. It has a historical narratives.

    Scriptures give us some resembles, example Hebrew 5:9 “eternal salvation to all of them that obey him” and yes so also eternal healing to all of them that recognize this disease. Of course improvements can occur, but resistance to the “needed changes” negates the improvement. That is what what I am observing even in our current political dialogue. There is no admittance of wrong judgement while for fact the lesson is taken inwardly for the heart indirectly. We are resisting the critical changes that need to make significant differences. If it does not happen, God forbid………….? fill the blank.

  • haile

    With due respect, the writer of the above article, Adhanom Fitwi, is simply frustrated and trying to beat up PFDJ and the Opposition with the same stick. At the start of his analysis (I would have said rumblings, were it not for fear of not encouraging debate) just after the couple of first paragraphs, which he alleged to be the scientific definition of an “attitude” (some thing that would make parents of young teens to stampede over each other to read), he whacks the PFDJ by saying “…the majority of the people defines the regime as dictatorial and totalitarian…” Then when it’s the Opposition’s turn to get the clipper, he admits there was nothing scientific about it but claims “…observation [that] 70% to 80% the Eritrean community in Addis Ababa are sympathizers of the PFDJ regime…” My main concern when I read the above article was none other than the mysteriously missing ‘group’. Please bear with me while I describe how it found itself astray in his repeated grouping of every thing he gotten his hands to. As the article was further grouping the second subgroup on the Majority opposition/ Minority supporters sub grouping, it accounts as “This group can be divided again into two parts. The handful who benefit from the regime and those who are innocent but wrongly acting against their interest” And by taking a single strand throughout the classification process it explains “Leaving the first one aside and taking the second…” now brace yourself for the missing group, he states “…the majority of this group is innocent” So, let’s back up again, the people were divided into supporter/opposition, then the supporter was subdivided into beneficiary/wrongly acting…and finally the majority of the ‘wrongly acting’ group is innocent. What would the minority of this subgroup be? Not beneficiary, not innocent….hmmm some weird type of supporter?????

    • flffie solomuna


  • Eyob Medhane


    Point very well taken. I think Adhanom’s article has prompted me to let my frustration out, especially my frustration (sometimes it grows to anger) at Kebessa Eritreans. At the risk of generalization again, I feel like we are the most, who are enabling this kind of unhealthy attitude that is leading the entire nation to its downfall. I understand a kind of smack down, I would get from so many people for saying this on this forum. But I feel that’s the God honest truth. We the highland Eritreans are the ones wasting enormous amount of time varnishing the image of Isayas. That’s what’s driving me crazy. I believe as long as, we continue to have this kind of attitude, there is very little hope I foresee. And I am very sorry about that, because I have two children, who are part Ethiopian. I hate the thought of passing a very complicated and nonsensically woven heritage to them. I hope you understand my frustration. Other than that, I humbly accept your feedback. Thank you~

  • Eyob Medhane

    “…..It is not based on scientific research, but according to my personal observation, 70% to 80% the Eritrean community in Addis Ababa are sympathizers of the PFDJ regime….”

    I wouldn’t be surprised. The inherit arrogance of many Eritreans thinking everyone else in the horn of Africa is inferior, especially Ethiopia is just a land to siphon off, while Eritrea is where there is God’s throne is nothing new. That’s the attitude, where the sympathy for PFDJ comes from. The over whelming number of Eritreans are programmed to think anything from Eritrea and anybody, who is Eritrean, even if the monstrous one like Isayas Afeworki is better than the “Agames”, the “Adgi Amharus”. It certainly is source of our spectacular downfall. We think we’re smarter and Ethiopians are unsuspecting fools letting us live in that place again, and we can fool them with our fake gratitude and smile, while we still are “hade libi hade hizbi” and meditate with the mantra “Nsu nhina”. Yet, we are the ones, who are fools and ignorant for not understanding that arrogance and chewing more than we can swallow are our follies….. By the way, that’s how so many Somalians used to think during, and right around the fall of Siad Barre. They convinced themselves that they were better. They were pure and superior. They will be the tigers of the horn with the establishment of the wonderful “Greater Somalia” out of a lands of Djibouti, Ogaden and Northern Kenya…We all know what happened to their unmatched arrogance don’t we. God forbid!

    • Saleh Gadi

      Though you are a bit harsh and unfair to the majority of Eritreans whom you sterotype without qualifiers, I think there is some truth to what you have stated. Adhanom’s 70% to 80% is not only unscientific as he put it, it is out of this world, very exaggerated. I don’t know the type of Eritreans he meets, but those who sympathize with Isaias are not even a fraction of that percentage. His numbers are almost equal to the number of Eritreans who escaped Isaias’ cruelty and have found sanctuary in Ethiopia, and that is why there is grave error on his judgement. The only bitter Eritreans I found are most of those who would not forgive the Ethiopian Government for the repercussions of the Badme war, deprtations and all. They felt they are avenging themselves by allying to Isaias and you found them the most zeleaous supporters of the Eritrean regime–they are a tiny fraction. On the other side, those who were murdered, their villages razed to the ground and made to escape their homes to the refugee camps in Sudan, have made peace with themselves. You do not find any bittereness in their attitudes towards Ethiopia or Ethiopians. I have the maximum hate (no appologies) for every Ethiopian regime of the past, but I have made my peace with the current Ethiopia. Not that I forgot the past which is crying for closure, but being pragmatic in such a situation is the only way that would usher peace in the region. But don’t forget that in underdeveloped countries like ours, relations are as good as the governments make them. Compare the Ethio-Eritrean relations of the nineties to the era of the struggle and you see my point. The worst thing is the current tendency of the Ethiopian officials: they take those who have made peace with themselves and with their neghbors for granted. On the contrary, you find them going jelly to win over the Isaias lot at the risk of antagonizing those who deal with them honestly and with conviction.

      The slurs and badmouthing you mentioned is a cultural thing, and we must admit we have a culture of arrogance. It is ugly and unbecoming in this age. Strangely enough, those who repeat the racist remarks that you mentioned are themselves the closest to those they insult. For some reason they want to erase their racial ties, culture and familial ties. In general, what ails Eritreans, the type that Adhanom mentioned, is the fact that harbor misguided and misplaced suspicion, they mistrust their own compatriots, just like many of those who fled Eritrea and then you find them in the bossom of the PFDJ embassies. As for the Somalis, just like the Eritreans, don’t ever think the Ethiopians are in short supply of that cultural triat–they have their fair share of arrogance. In short, I have a serious problem accepting even a fraction of Adhanom’s numbers.

      • Hameed

        The majority of Eritreans are not arrogant. This is a sign of ignorance and it becomes a cancer when you find it among the educated elites.