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Samrawit: A Book Review

Samrawit is an Arabic novel written by the Eritrean novelist Hajji Jabir who works as a journalist in Aljazeera Channel. The novel is in its third edition and it won the 2012 Al-Sharqa (Arab Emirates) Arab Creativity prize.

“Searching for Eritrea” is the subject matter of the novel. Apparently Hajji chose this subject over other subjects because “who is not is looking for Eritrea now?”  An Eritrea where human rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law are respected?

Hajji tells us the story from Omar’s point of view. The character of Omar is an Eritrean who lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where his family immigrated when he was a child.  Growing up in Jeddah wasn’t easy for Omar; he was always reminded that he is foreigner, even though he spoke like a Saudi and worked as a journalist for the wellbeing of Saudi Arabia. But Omar knows who he is: he is an Eritrean. He dreams that one day Eritrea will be free and he would go and live there with respect and dignity.

Samrawit’s setting takes us back and forth between the present and past, between Eritrea and Saudi Arabia. The former setting is about “discovering”; and the latter is about “being discovered”. In Eritrea Omer discovered that the Eritrea he dreamt about doesn’t exist. In Saudi Arabia, he tried to live, think, talk and act like a Saudi but that didn’t help him to be accepted. His Saudi acquaintances didn’t accept him as one of their fellow citizens. There is no such as an Eritrean-Saudi; he’s just another foreigner.

Hajji’s primary audience are Eritreans and Saudis; he attempts to show how they think about each other. Written in formal Arabic, the dialogue between the characters in Samrawit also includes the Jeddah-Arabic dialect. The writing style of the novel is beautiful and is coherent. Hajji used original and clear words; the form of the sentences are forceful and fluid.

The author’s main ideas are well organized: what does Eritrea and Saudi Arabia have in common? The abuse of Eritrean citizens. In Saudi Arabia an Eritrean is a foreigner at the mercy of a Saudi sponsor and abused. In Eritrea he is a citizen at a mercy of the Eritrean government, and is abused. In Saudi Arabia Eritreans can’t send their children to school. They can’t work if they don’t have residence permit (Iqama) and can’t have residence permit if they don’t have work. For Eritreans, life in Saudi Arabia has become unbearable. In Eritrea children can’t complete their schooling; they are sent to a military camp, mainly SAWA. They can’t work and live freely; due to that, young Eritreans flee their country.  

Another important point Samrawit raises is the issue of official languages in Eritrea. The policy of the Eritrean government towards Arabic is obscure. On one hand, the government issues an Arabic language newspaper, on another hand, it makes it difficult for a wider public access. Omar can’t find Eritrea Al-Haditha newspaper in the heart of the capital city of Eritrea. He also discovers the content is treated differently on Haddas Ertra, and Eritrea Al-Haditha, respectively; Tigrinya and Arabic government owned newspapers. Issues are addressed in more detail in the former than the later.

In addition, in Jeddah where Arabic is the language of communication between Eritreans, the Eritrean government representatives impose Tigrinya as the language of a communication in their public meetings, although they know that the audience understands Arabic more than Tigrinya. That is followed by persons who translators what was  said in Tigrinya into Arabic; as a result time is wasted and the meetings become boring.

Samrawit carries soft criticism towards the government of Saudi Arabia and its unspoken policies. It also mentions the Saudi culture that affects Eritreans to a great extent.  Neither the Eritrean government nor the opposition has attempted to ameliorate the issue of Eritreans living in Saudi Arabia. Why can’t Eritreans working in Saudi Arabia not enrol their children in a Saudi school? Eritrean women abused by their Saudi sponsors?

Moreover the issue of drawing a line between Islam and Saudi culture was well addressed in Samrawit. Some Eritreans raised in Saudi Arabia can’t differentiate between the two. That has created problems among many Eritrean Muslims. I salute Hajji for addressing those issues in his first novel and I recommend Samrawit to those Eritrean Muslims who mix Saudi culture with Islam.

The theme of Samrawit is a search for identity. How can Omar, who is searching for his Eritrean identity say  “I am an Eritrean”, when, his criticism of human rights abuses and absence of freedom of speech and rule of law in Eritrea are seen negatively by the government and its supporters? These values are also part of his identity; the duality forces him to choose between those values and his identity; he is forced to leave Eritrea.

Omar loves Samrawit Abraham W/Mariam, but though she loves him as well, she can’t marry him because her parents don’t allow it. Marriage will distract her from caring for her ill Lebanese mother. As a result, his love is lost. Omar loves Eritrea, but hardly finds it. His love for democracy is rejected and he is told his kind of love will destruct others from building and protecting the nation.

Samrawit is an interesting novel. It is another asset to the Eritrean literature. The characters are very bold. For Omar, the good Samrawit is the good Eritrea. And the good Eritrean people are symbolized by the good Zewditu that he hardly finds her. Where are the good, brave and wise Eritreans? Are they, including Zewditu, in prison or living as refugees elsewhere? Why can’t we know the whereabouts of a missing Eritrean?

Hajji says, as a writer you have to give equal and balanced opinions of the opposing sides. Throughout the novel the pros and cons of the  Eritrean government are given equal space. Through Omer, Hajji searches for the truth and he reaches out to both sides and leaves the judgment to the reader. Omar challenges a person who opposes the government when that person based his argument against the government on untrue information.

But Hajji left us without answering the big question: how do we affect a political change in Eritrea?

The only answer to this question comes from Saeed who is a disabled veteran combatant who sees that fixing the front is the answer, not destroying it. Hajji didn’t address other alternatives such as peaceful resistance, revolution or a coup d’état.

Hajji has raised awareness about the conditions of Eritreans living in Saudi Arabia, drawing a line between Islam and Saudi culture, and being clear about the official languages in Eritrea.

Sudan has come with new policies to benefit of Eritrean refugees; Saudi Arabia should follow Sudan’s example or the UNHCR should accept political asylum seeking Eritreans in Saudi Arabia. But Hajji doesn’t present an alternative for Eritreans living in Saudi Arabia.

Currently there is no official document stating that Arabic and Tigrinya are the official language of Eritrea. Even the dormant Eritrean constitution doesn’t state that.  In addition Hajji doesn’t give us the opinion of the other characters in the novel, including Samrawit, to this important matter.  It was important to know their opinions because they represent diverse groups.

I would like to end this article where Samrawit ends:

Jeddah is passing ….it grew in me and its words come out from my body
The Al-Nazla neighbourhood is passing… for sure it has lost its old face
Massawa is passing  ….and it is on the verge of being buried alive
Zewditu is passing … and she is not coming back regardless of my mom’s
prayers
Samrawit is passing ….a nation survived to end my homesickness for a while
It is regretful, even the nation has become like us…an
emergency matter.

About Mohamed Edris

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  • Samuel

    The Slaves with Stockholm Syndrome who want to Arabize Eritrea and Ethiopia should take a look at this:
    መንግስቲ ስዑዲ ዓረብ መብዛሕትኦም ኢትዮጵያውያን ዝኾኑ ብዘይፍቃድ ኣብታ ሃገር ይሰርሑ አለው ንዝበሎም ወፃእተኛታት ናብ ዝመፅሉ ንምምላስ ወፍሪ ጀሚሩ።
    ኣብ ዝሓለፈ ሰኑይ ኣብ ዝጀመረ ኣብቲ ወፍሪ ካብ 10 – ሽሕ ንላዕሊ ናይ ወፃኢ ዜጋታት ኣብ ዝተፈላለዩ ኣብያተ ማእሰርቲ ዝተዳጎኑ ክኸውን ከሎ ሓደ ኢትዮጵያዊ ከም ዝተቀትለ ተፈሊጡ’ሎ።
    ትካል ዜና ኣሲሴትድ ፕሬስ እቲ ኢትዮጵያዊ መንእሰይ ዝተቀትለ ካብ ፖሊስ ክሃድም ኣብ ዝፈተነሉ እዋን’ዩ ድሕሪ ምባል ክሳብ ሎሚ 16-ሽሕ ሰባት ተታሒዞም ተሲሮም ከም ዘለው ሓቢሩ’ሎ።
    ብፍላይ ኢትዮጵያውያን ኣብ ልዕሌና ግፍዒ ይፍፀም’ሎ፣ ኣብ ስዑዲ ናብ ዝርከብ ኤምባሲ ኢትዮጵያ ኩነታትና እንተገለፅናውን ሰማዒ ስኢና ብምባል አውያትና አስምዕልና ክብሉ መረረቶም ገሊፆም።
    ኣብ ስዑዲ ኣብ ዝርከብ ኤምባሲ ኢትዮጵያ ዘፈር ዳያስፖራ ዝሰርሑ አሕመድ ዝተባህሉ በዓል ስልጣን ብወገኖም ንማእሰርቲ ኢትዮጵያውያንን ሞት ሓደ ኢትዮጵያዊን አረጋጊፆም ብዛዕባ’ቲ ኩነታት ሓበሬታ ንምርካብ ንሰርሕ’ለና ኢሎም።
    ኣስዒቦም ነቶም ፍቃድ ስራሕ ዘይብሎም ናብ ሃገሮም ንምምላስ ምድላው ይግበር ከምዘሎ ንሬድዮ ድምፂ ኣሜሪካ ገሊፆም’ለው።
    ሙሉእ ትሕዝተኡ ንምስማዕ ናብ ምልክት ብምኻድ ጠውቁ።
    Listen
    http://tigrigna.voanews.com/content/ethiopians-in-saudi/1786710.html
    In a lynch-mob kind of atmosphere; east Africans mainly Ethiopians are chased, assaulted and dehumanized not only by the Saudi Police but also by Saudi Youth.
    Sebele, one Tigrian woman who live in Saudi Arabia pleaded to every citizen to get the message to the ruling class to help the citizens who are stuck in Saudi arabia…and she describe her ordeal as following.
    “The Saudi Arabian police is incarcerating the husbands and afterward they are raping and mistreating the women…..Meniya Afwerki asked, if she know people who experienced similar ordeal as she is describing….Sebele recalled about a young girl who were separated from one group by the police, and she didn’t see her for all night..in the morning she came to the group in a bad condition.
    Another man from Adi-grat gave similar scenario to Meniya..he said, the police is separating the Male and Female Ethiopians, after they separated the women from the men…The police offers the women to the Saudi male youth to basically play with them.
    As much as the horror is shocking, the extreme part of shock is when both of them called the Ag@£@ame council in jeddah to get support from their government…the officials in the embassy replied…We only provide papers to people who came to this country legally…you should return to Ethiopia the way you came to Saudi arabia……The woman replied, i came via sea and the official replied, then you should go to the sea…ok then help me then to reach to the sea….and then official replied…display yourself in the street and let the Saudi Arabian police incarcerate you.
    Those are citizens of the Ethiopia and Eritra who are desperate in need of help and they are left in limbo chased and abused by Arab savages in Eritrean borders, in Sudan, in Egypt, in Libya, in Sinai, in Yemen, in Lebanon, Kuwuait…..And Black Muslim Eritreans want to Arabize Eritrea, to import the language and culture of these subhumans….I don’t get it. God have mercy on the African people and their inferiority complexes.

  • Samuel

    The Slaves with Stockholm Syndrome who want to Arabize Eritrea and Ethiopia should take a look at this:
    መንግስቲ ስዑዲ ዓረብ መብዛሕትኦም ኢትዮጵያውያን ዝኾኑ ብዘይፍቃድ ኣብታ ሃገር ይሰርሑ አለው ንዝበሎም ወፃእተኛታት ናብ ዝመፅሉ ንምምላስ ወፍሪ ጀሚሩ።

    ኣብ ዝሓለፈ ሰኑይ ኣብ ዝጀመረ ኣብቲ ወፍሪ ካብ 10 – ሽሕ ንላዕሊ ናይ ወፃኢ ዜጋታት ኣብ ዝተፈላለዩ ኣብያተ ማእሰርቲ ዝተዳጎኑ ክኸውን ከሎ ሓደ ኢትዮጵያዊ ከም ዝተቀትለ ተፈሊጡ’ሎ።

    ትካል ዜና ኣሲሴትድ ፕሬስ እቲ ኢትዮጵያዊ መንእሰይ ዝተቀትለ ካብ ፖሊስ ክሃድም ኣብ ዝፈተነሉ እዋን’ዩ ድሕሪ ምባል ክሳብ ሎሚ 16-ሽሕ ሰባት ተታሒዞም ተሲሮም ከም ዘለው ሓቢሩ’ሎ።

    ብፍላይ ኢትዮጵያውያን ኣብ ልዕሌና ግፍዒ ይፍፀም’ሎ፣ ኣብ ስዑዲ ናብ ዝርከብ ኤምባሲ ኢትዮጵያ ኩነታትና እንተገለፅናውን ሰማዒ ስኢና ብምባል አውያትና አስምዕልና ክብሉ መረረቶም ገሊፆም።

    ኣብ ስዑዲ ኣብ ዝርከብ ኤምባሲ ኢትዮጵያ ዘፈር ዳያስፖራ ዝሰርሑ አሕመድ ዝተባህሉ በዓል ስልጣን ብወገኖም ንማእሰርቲ ኢትዮጵያውያንን ሞት ሓደ ኢትዮጵያዊን አረጋጊፆም ብዛዕባ’ቲ ኩነታት ሓበሬታ ንምርካብ ንሰርሕ’ለና ኢሎም።

    ኣስዒቦም ነቶም ፍቃድ ስራሕ ዘይብሎም ናብ ሃገሮም ንምምላስ ምድላው ይግበር ከምዘሎ ንሬድዮ ድምፂ ኣሜሪካ ገሊፆም’ለው።

    ሙሉእ ትሕዝተኡ ንምስማዕ ናብ ምልክት ብምኻድ ጠውቁ።
    Listen
    http://tigrigna.voanews.com/content/ethiopians-in-saudi/1786710.html

    In a lynch-mob kind of atmosphere; east Africans mainly Ethiopians are chased, assaulted and dehumanized not only by the Saudi Police but also by Saudi Youth.
    Sebele, one Tigrian woman who live in Saudi Arabia pleaded to every citizen to get the message to the ruling class to help the citizens who are stuck in Saudi arabia…and she describe her ordeal as following.
    “The Saudi Arabian police is incarcerating the husbands and afterward they are raping and mistreating the women…..Meniya Afwerki asked, if she know people who experienced similar ordeal as she is describing….Sebele recalled about a young girl who were separated from one group by the police, and she didn’t see her for all night..in the morning she came to the group in a bad condition.
    Another man from Adi-grat gave similar scenario to Meniya..he said, the police is separating the Male and Female Ethiopians, after they separated the women from the men…The police offers the women to the Saudi male youth to basically play with them.
    As much as the horror is shocking, the extreme part of shock is when both of them called the Ag@£@ame council in jeddah to get support from their government…the officials in the embassy replied…We only provide papers to people who came to this country legally…you should return to Ethiopia the way you came to Saudi arabia……The woman replied, i came via sea and the official replied, then you should go to the sea…ok then help me then to reach to the sea….and then official replied…display yourself in the street and let the Saudi Arabian police incarcerate you.
    Those are citizens of the “Golden race” who are desperate in need of help and they are left in limbo.

  • Samuel

    Awate.com are stealth Islamists, I wrote a long reply regarding why people hidden agenda want to Arabize Eritrea and they refuse to publish it. It was a long article about Islam and Muhammed, how it is Muhammads decree 1400 years ago to arabize Islamize the whole world….and that is what their goal ultimately, it is nothingelse. It is all about Islamic supremacy and hegemony in the end. I had written a long reply, but Awate.com staff, because they are part of the bigger Islamic Supremacy conspiracy, they have not published what I wrote….I don’t think they will publish this either. At least we know, who you are and what you are about, Awate.com staff….we have known that for long time. It is all about Islamic domination, Arabic language is just one little tiny part of it. The full process is to convert the whole Ertrean population by free will or direct/indirect force….This is the aim.

    • abou yara

      Samuel,
      You see that is the diffrece between the western people and the hard headed full of ignorance of the thired world people such as you! The westner arguement comes from his understanding and mind but the hard headed thired world african such as you an argument comes from the feeling without taking any effort to try to understand the other party. Though you are living in the westen country but regratabley your way of thinking and mind still remains behind you brainwashed in the third world country.

  • Michael, B.

    Dear Samuel
    There are, God knows how many, reasons for us to be angry and shocked about our present and past adverse conditions. The country you mentioned, Saudi Arabia and quite a few other countries, are oddities in our modern times. They are by their wasteful material wealth, their fanatic ways in terms of religious practices and stand and a variety of no-need-listing things, by which they might be distinguished. And we should add that we have our own!
    I do not think you are emotionally out of balance and we and you should be emotional. To be emotional is perfectly human and positive. It is commonplace to attach some negative character connotations to it. It is right and legitimate and mature and healthy to be moved to anger and rage when we face the many aberrations of human nature. No matter what the cheat white man makes of it. Emotion is a fantastic gift. It is the driving force of any artistic creation, I assume. Language, culture, literature and the like subject is both a matter of heart and a state of mind. Besides your concern is eminently Eritrean. Your sense the danger of losing what the older generations preserved with care is plainly understandable.
    However, I remember one observation of missionary who wrote a Tigrinya basic grammar in Italian, who also published some of our proverbs. He liked justly one, in particular: መለበም ኣይትኁን፡ መለበም ግበር! He said that it was a bellissimo proverbio! A most beautiful proverb. (I quote, with emphasis and rely on my memory). It reflects the best social strategy, the utmost wisdom and mature philosophy of life of our people. It is also interesting that the man who crossed the seas to introduce his brand of Christian (Catholic) faith on top of our Orthodox Haymanot Abaw had to concede the beauty of our popular maxim.
    Yet the topic of language and Arabic is not easy to handle. It demands discussion, compromise solution without compromising our African cultural and linguistic preference and setting.

  • Beyan Negash

    Mohamed Edris’s part of the book review states the following:

    “Samrawit’s setting takes us back and forth between the present and past, between Eritrea and Saudi Arabia. The former setting is about “discovering”; and the latter is about “being discovered”. In Eritrea Omer discovered that the Eritrea he dreamt about doesn’t exist. In Saudi Arabia, he tried to live, think, talk and act like a Saudi but that didn’t help him to be accepted. His Saudi acquaintances didn’t accept him as one of their fellow citizens. There is no such as an Eritrean-Saudi; he’s just another foreigner.“

    The above setting that ME articulates one can also think of it in terms of how one’s identity is negotiable, its fluidity rests in how not only one’s identity is defined by the way an individual sees himself, but also in how others choose to perceive him that creates this feeling of dissonance.

    A society refuses to accept you as one of its own, though you speak alike, you eat alike, you think alike, your read alike, you write alike… On the other hand, “the discovering” part can be as elusive as the “being discovered” because the discovering in this case rests in how you may share genes or heritage but how that is not sufficient enough to make you feel connected or become part of. In other words, by being “othered” by the mainstream culture (the Saudi) Omer perhaps struggles to accept this otherness category that was dictated upon him to accepts. The “othering” of the other, if you will, compels Omer to find a place where he may not be “othered.” So he goes in search of that to Eritrea, Eritrea where he has a gene pool and heritage that he shares with and that too proves elusive.

    Therefore, the feeling that Eritrea to which Omer had yearning for remains as elusive for he feels as alien to it as the society that he yearns to be a part of, which has no yearning for him. So, he lives in this perpetual state of a limbo – identity-wise – where acceptance and rejection are in a tag of war from within Omer. Such pull-and-push takes him to places where he begins to examine everything, his political identity (as Eritrea’s official language); the socially constructed identity (as in how he sees himself and how a given society like Saudi chooses to see him are incommensurate; he then even attempt to find universally decorated identity (as in individual sovereignty, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, etc.).

    These identity based yearnings are in the background lurking wishing to surface, but the sociopolitical landscape of both places (Eritrea & Saudi) where one is worse than the other create clashes within one self until in the end everything seems to pass literally and metaphorically: where (“Jeddah is passing…it grew in [him] and its words come out from [his] body”) yet the society refuses to give Omer the recognition and the identification that he so yearns for. Everything comes to pass: the neighborhood he grew up in passes even a place he yearns to make his sense of place like “Massawa is passing…and it is on the verge of being buried alive.”

    In the end Omer will pass as well just like these places without giving him the identity that he so wanted to be acknowledged with, the identity that is so malleably elusive where we will all in the end leave behind.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    Eritreans tell us that they helped us to use our native Language in Ethiopia. If they do it accidentally or by plan there is no explanation. Or if at all they have any to do with ethiopian’s rights to use their mother tangue. Now in Ethiopia the Afar people organized (what is possible in ethiopian democratic arm length) in a state wise and uses its language as its state’s main language while both ghedil sympathizers in Eritrea fights for which Language to impose on afar in under Eritrea’s map.

    Now after 23 years we have succeded in creating eri-afar who speak fluent tigrinya and brain wahsed with ghedil propaganda and afar-state who masters its own Language. What afar people need from both sides is to use its language and develops their nation with positive atmosphere around it and tis abundant Natural resources.

    What awateians (not neccessarly awate.com followers)opposing the pfdj propose is that to correct the 23 years horror for afar people is to replace the tigrinya for afar people so that its Identity look correct in their eyes. You can upply this to any ethnic Group in Eritrea.

    I choose afar because the contrast is good for the message i want to for ward. Why do we hate unfari thing when others do it and we love it when we do it any way? Is it because our explanation sounds convincing enough for our ears? Let’s try it to hear by others ears! That way we might kill the mengistu or isayas hiding in ourselves some where in our subconsious. For those who do it consiously i tell you one thing dont be mengistu or isias drop dead!

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      i mean to replace tigrinya by arabic

  • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

    dear Ayob,

    here in Jebana today i have something for you you may enjoy it ………እንደ ግዮን……… that is all truth about habesha.

  • Dembobet

    From the debate raging here, one can easily say that Arabic language is seen in Eritrea by the young generation as a foreign language or a language mainly spoken by few hundreds in Eritrea, such as Rashaidas.
    This is a good sign of self confidence and self respect of ones own. This young generation has more respect to its own values than the older generation who saw themselves dependent on the Arabs for the moral and financial support they received, however little, from the Arabs.
    This is not surprising because the likes of Tigre radio programs are more popular in Eritrea now than Arabic and Tigrinya.
    Therefore, the next generation will likely leave Arabic to the Arabs as it adopts Tigre and Tigrinya as working languages, and English as its language of science and diplomacy. This is a good sign of maturity of the young generation. The ideals of the Ghedli generation are slowly discarded to the garbage giving way to self confidence.

  • Eyob Medhane

    Why anyone, ANYONE advocates for this utterly barbaric and animalistic culture is beyond me..Really. I am too emotional and very much affected with this clip, which shows what happened just yesterday to say anything more.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oR51vKUpoOs

  • Eyob Medhane

    Awate Team,

    Fix, fix, fix…

    Comments are not going through….please take a look in your trash bin. 😉

  • Papillon

    Dear Eyob,

    I say this guy is best of them all. You’ve no idea how many times I’ve listened to these two songs particularly when I drive.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOvk08DjIpE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWslqffzGCo

    • Eyob Medhane

      Papillon,

      You know that they are gonna accuse you of diverting the subject, right?:-)

      I provided the Jano band song about the Ethiopian/Eritrean women plight in Arab countries in relation to some people’s advocacy of Arab language and Arabism in Eritrea and Ethiopia..

      In that note, you are right. Michael Belayneh is one of my favorite singers…

  • Beyan Negash

    An impression of a book based on a book review.

    Let me preface by saying that this is obviously a note on a book about a book that I did not read but have gotten a glimpse herewith through the bird’s eye view of a reviewer, namely, Mohamed Edris (aka, ME), who herein kindly furnished.

    As we search for Eritrea we all seem to be in search of ourselves, at least, those of us who live outside its proper, be it in the Middle East, in the African continent, in the Continental Europe, and North America (Gezae, I know you guys have a thing or two about your neighbors from the south, so, let me acknowledge it unequivocally here – CANADA included).

    Interestingly, in the case of the main protagonist, Omar, on whose viewpoint the narration seems to rest, the search for Eritrea and by extension for himself is doubly unreachable because “human rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law” that ME mentions are next to non-existent in both places – i.e. his place of origin (Eritrea) and his adopted country (Saudi Arabia), where once a foreigner forever a foreigner.

    What the reader knows of Omar vis-a-vis ME is this, at least at the beginning of the review is this:

    “Hajji tells us the story from Omar’s point of view. The character of Omar is an Eritrean who lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where his family immigrated when he was a child. Growing up in Jeddah wasn’t easy for Omar; he was always reminded that he is foreigner, even though he spoke like a Saudi and worked as a journalist for the wellbeing of Saudi Arabia. But Omar knows who he is: he is an Eritrean. He dreams that one day Eritrea will be free and he would go and live there with respect and dignity.”

    This speaks of the sense of displacement and alienation that humans feel and experience when uprooted from the only home they knew as children. What this speaks to is the way in which humans tend to romanticize a place of their origin as something far more ideal than the reality on the ground. The influence of the formative years for great many children is such powerfully influential that it seems to have profound implication throughout adulthood years as it clearly seems to suggest in Omar’s case.

    But, one wonders if Omar would’ve felt the same way were he to have been living in the West, because contrast that to those of us who made our adopted home in Europe, U.S.A., and Canada, where we enjoy the premiums of what the Western civilization has to offer, the universally decorated human dignity and human rights are afforded to all; where rule of law reigns supreme. The book seems to grapple with these notions lurking in the background while identity and its intricate forms imposingly and prominently making their presence felt in the foreground through Omar’s life.

    So, identity and sense of alienation that Omar is experiencing in his life at the Kingdom of the Desert where foreigners are sneered and jeered at as though they were animals is case in point that is perhaps – this is conjecture of course – at the center of this book and not whether Arabic ought to be the official language in Eritrea or not.

    The link that Samuel availed, the link to which I am copying and pasting gives us a glimpse in what it is like to live in places such as Saudi Arabia where, by the way, it is more pronounced when the foreigner is black – no doubt about that.

    http://eastafro.com/Post/2013/11/07/video-nightmare-for-eritrean-ethiopian-migrants-in-saudi-arabia/

    These animals would not treat a European in such manner, never ever would they do that. However, Samuel seems to draw erroneous conclusion that Arabic language is the culprit to such unbecoming human behavior. It is not the language that is making them do such heinous crimes in the Deserts of Sinai; it is their uncivilized culture, a culture that sees women as properties of their husbands, black Saudis are still treated as close to indentured servants as the society possibly can get away with. There is no doubt in my mind that Arabs are as racist as any White KKK is.

    By the same token, if we are to take Samuel N’s emotionally laced argument, then, we should not even make Tigrinya as the language of Eritrea because the government in power for the last 22 years has been killing, maiming, uprooting its young to a point of extinction. Or, since Eyob seems to concur with Samuel’s note; let me add that the Amharic language of Haile Selassie’s of several decades reign of terror or that of Derg’s 17 years of chaos is not the culprit we should aim after, it is not in the language folks it is in the demon within us humans. The very Amharic language is now being used to bring Ethiopia, arguably, to the civilized world because there is some semblance of law, security, and order in the country, that’s why – the same language remains official for the three successive regimes in Ethiopia, but it never for a minute dawned on us to blame it on Amharic?

    Let me add one more here: The over four hundred years of slavery in the U.S. of Africans and the decades and decades of colonialism by Great Britain of African countries, hell, we should never use English as the Lingua-Franca of the world now, should we, if we are to arrive at drawing conclusions based on language being the reason behind some unseemly atrocities being perpetrated in human history. So, let’s outlaw English from becoming the world’s default official language now?

    Mind you, I am not advocating Arabic or Tigrinya to become the official language of Eritrea here. I am merely pointing out how such arguments as advanced by Samuel and many others and now Eyob who is singing to the choir, based on a clip that has nothing to do with any language but a culture of a society epitomizes in how emotionally laced rhetoric reigns supreme in our thinking.

    It is rather painful to see where reason and logic take a backseat and emotional tantrums the front seat – zewereda QuanQa – it is our brain that cannot think straight – now for that I blame our language -:) Our inability to separate the wheat from the chaff seems to me to be of paramount importance here. It is not the Tigrinya language that is making our Highland Brothers who are abusing their power any more than Arabic language is the culprit in the Kingdom’s case nor was it Amharic in Haile Selassie and Derg’s case.

    This is such a drain, an annoyance no less, but needs to be repeated umpty-umpth time, if that is what it is going to take for people to reach at some basic level of understanding. I hope to continue on my impressions of ME’s book review some other time. Ahmed, I really wanted to give it a stub, but here it goes with its derailed form.

    Regards,
    Beyan

    • samuel

      Beyan,
      very long intellectual excuse. I will answer you in few sentences. Tigrinya, Amharigna, Afar, Kunama, Saho, Hidareb, Bilen Agew, Gurage, Tigre, Oromo, Somali etc etc are all NATIVE INDIGENOUS Horn African languages, Arabic is NOT!!!!! So even if the Arabs were at the forefront of respecting human rights, even if their were as lovely and innocent as doves, it would still not make a difference because if you are a black hamatic kushtic Eritrean/Horn African, you stick to your mother tongue and try to develop the your native language given to you by your forefathers, instead of celebrating and cultivating a foreign language like Arabic. Let the Arabs speak Arab, you are one of the 8 ethnic tribes of Eritrea most likely (unless u rashaida, then u can have arabic) and all the 8 ethnic tribes have their own native languages and they using Tigrinya as the lingua franca because that has become the custom throughout the centuries and especially since the tigrinya are the majority. If you not happy with Tigrinya, then you can advocate for one of the other native hamitic Kushtic languages to become the lingua franca, maybe Tigre…..but why in the world advocate for Arabic, when we all are well aware that it is imported foreign language, not one of the Horn of Afra’s native indigenous mother tongues…..and Rashaida are not native indigenous people of East Africa. They just came about 100 years ago and they are not even hundred thousands….so unless you do now own dignity and pride, it would be very hard to prove with well-founded pre-texts that this foreign language should be one of the national languages of Eritrea…it is sadly, but only as decoration to appease the religous muslim fanatics who cannot distingush between Arabic as language and Islam as religion…..Language is local and religion can be universal…If all the Christians of Eritrea began demanding that Hebrew/Aramaic should be the national language of Eritrea also…eventhough it is not native language…would the State of Eritrea allow it? I don’t think it would. It doesn’t make sense to say because Quran is written in Arabic then the national language of Eritrea should be Arabic…that is just too lame…

      • Beyan Negash

        Samuel,

        For the record, I happen to have been an advocate of Tigre as the more viable official language of Eritrea along with Tigrinya during my tenure in dehai (sometime between 1995 and 1997, I think). So, we may be in the same line of thinking, but you made it sound as though I was advocating for Arabic to be Eritrea’s official language when I clearly indicated that my argument was not about Eritrea’s official language, per se. Here is what I stipulated in that note:

        “Mind you, I am not advocating Arabic or Tigrinya to become the official language of Eritrea here. I am merely pointing out how such arguments as advanced by Samuel and many others and now Eyob who is singing to the choir, based on a clip that has nothing to do with any language but a culture of a society epitomizes in how emotionally laced rhetoric reigns supreme in our thinking.”

        You wanted to read what you wanted to read out of my lengthy “intellectual excuse” as you dubbed it. It is precisely the kind of emotionally charged arguments that you tried to advance that I was arguing against, which had no logical merit at all that I was challenging you on. Samuel, what you did is this: you post a link about some Arab hoodlums manhandling helpless people, therefore, to somehow associate that with their language was what I was addressing. Mind you, I have the same claim to Kebessa as you for my mother tongue is Tigrinya. So, spare me the lectures please. I know what language is foreign and what is indigenous. It is that when you present emotionally laced arguments it hurts the very case that you are trying to advance. I am with you about questioning the Arabic language, but do not try to sell it using emotional tantrums is all what I am saying.

        A better argument might be what I heard from my friend over the phone last evening, in fact, I am paraphrasing here. My friend said, among other things, the following:

        As vast as Arabic language is, it would take no more than one generation before it replaces not only Tigrinya but all Eritrean languages combined. Now, that is an honest existential question that one is able to wrap one’s head around. What my friend’s point illustrates is that it is pragmatic based on real or perceived impact of Arabic language would have, especially, given the geographical proximity and with their oil wealth, they will definitely not only have hegemonic power but also homogenizing effect. Now that will be honest to goodness concern.

        Beyan

        • Zaul

          Selam Beyan,

          Thank you for your clarity. Eritrea can stand on it’s own two legs, economically, culturally, linguistically and politically if we discuss all our issues with the coming generations interests in mind.Emotions won’t take us far.

          I would love to see a politically neutral and a culturally proud Eritrea. Not eveything brought from abroad is modern, not communism, not salafism or any other ISM de jour. Let’s value what was handed down to us by previous generations and build something authentic.

          • Beyan Negash

            Selam Zaul,

            I thank you for clearly seeing what I am trying to say. Sometimes, presumptions and assumptions are our number one enemy that prevents us from seeing what is clearly written in black and white.

            As you aptly put it, “Let’s value what was handed down to us by previous generations and build something authentic” and that requires genuinely assessing, evaluating, synthesizing, issues with what will be good for the proceeding generation.

            We ought to value what was handed down to us alright, but we must also be vigilant where some of those heritages have no useful purposes to be ready to dispose of them through consensus and dialogue.

            Beyan

        • Beyan Negash

          The post script that I inadvertently forgot to include in the note above is this: What emotional tantrum would you spew, Samuel, if those very Tigre speakers along with the other Muslim Eritrean groups were to choose Tigre with one subversive caveat: if the choice of their cartographies are Arabic instead of Tiginya alphabets, ha? I just wonder where your authoritarian streak ends and democratic tendencies begin?

          • Zaul

            Beyan,Fidel Tigrinya ilka emo, ane hji bfidel Ingliz dye wey Latin iye zxihif zelekhu? etom quanqa adeom Tigrinya zeykone, emnetom krstyan zkhonu’khe ab referendum quanqa mkfal mstefekedelom’do?

          • Beyan Negash

            ስላምን ክብርን ይብጻሕካ እዚ ሓወይ ዛውል,

            እዚ ላዛ ዘለዎ ልሣንካ ካብ ኣፍካ ናብ ኣፍደገ መንግስት ስማይ!!!

            Beyan

        • Samuel

          Beyan,
          You cunning Muslim intellectual. You just presenting what Muslim fanatics present in more covert hidden mild intellectual way with all the fancy academic English…but as you clearly stated, you believe Arabic is superior to all the Native indigenous mother tongues of Eritrea. You really are shamefull. You got no pride and you call my national pride emotional tantrum..very slimy intellectualizing of the matter in hand. The matter in hand is if you are proud black Eritrean or not, and obviously you are not, since you clearly got some inferiority complexes. Work on your inferiority, brother. Arabic is just another language like any language. If it was anything especial it would have been the lingua franca of the world instead of English..

          • Beyan Negash

            Dearest Samuel,

            አንተዳአ ናይ ኢህን ሚህን፤ እንካን ሃባን ናይ ምባል ጸገም ሃልዩ፤ ይርዳእካ እዝ ሐወይ ኢዩ ተሪፉሞ – ዓለላህ።

          • Zaul

            Samuel,

            Ageb Ageb Ageb, Beyan is a reasonable man trying to have a mature discussion with you. You need to read what he wrote once again carefully and apollogize to your elder brother.

      • Tamrat Tamrat

        Hi Samuel!

        The same reason why isaias speaks arabic better than tigrinya but he doesnt want now to impose arabic on eritreans. He learned arabaic for the purpose he wanted and he got it.

  • Michael, B.

    A note ስለ ልሳን ሓድሓደ ሓሳብ
    ልሳን ዓረብ ብዘተፈላለ ሰሪ ካብ ዓንተቦና ክልኩል ኮነ፡ ንብዙሓትና፡ አሪትራዊያን ቆላን ከበሳን፡ ካብ ጥንቲ፡ ልሳን ሕግዋና እሞ ኣውራ ኪነጀው ወለዶ መሓመድ ነቢይ (7-8ይ መዋ. ድክ. / 1-2ይ ሂ.) ኣብ ደስየታዊ ክፍላትና ዝያዳ ሱር ሰደደ፡ ብዛንታ ኣውራ እቶም ዓረብ ሓውሲ-ደስየታዊያን ብንግዶም፡ ዓባሳዊያን ከሊፋታት መራሕቶም ብፖሊቲካኦም፡ ንቀይሕ ባሕሪና ምስ በሓቱ ብንግዲ ጥራይ ኣይከተሩናን፡ ነቲ ዳህላክ ከም ደስየት ሕየራ ተገልገሉሉ፡ ካብ ተሓለቕቲ፡ ዓረብ ልሳን ጥንቲና ከም ዝነበረ፡ ብፍላይ ኣብ ኣንፊ ደቡባዊ ገምገም ባሕሪና፡ የብሲ ኣፋርና፡ ከም ዝነበረ ዘመልክት ኣብዚ ኢንተርነት ዘንበብኩ ይመስለኒ፡ ብጥንቲነት ዝመጸ ሞጎተ እኁል ኣይኮነን፡ ከመይ ልሳን ዓረብ ልሳን ኣፋር ኣይኮነን፡ ኣፋር ኢዩ ልሳን ኣፋር! ልሳን ዓረብ ልሳን ዓመምቲ ዘረፍቲ ኣፍሪቃና ኢዩ
    ሰምየን አሪትራ ክሳዕ ዝሓለፈ 150 ዓመት ኣቢሉ ክርስትያን ነበረ፡ ክልተ መንሳዕ፡ ክልተ ማርያ፡ ኣስገደ በቕላ (ሳሐል)፡ ቢለን ታርቀ ኮኑ ታውቀ ተረርቲ ክርስትያን ነበሩ፡ ክሳዕ ትግራይ-ኣምሓራ ዘበሳብሱዎም፡ ኣደዳ ዓንዳፋት ግብጺ ዚገድፉዎም፡ ገበን ክርስትያን ተዋህዶ ደቡብና ተዘርዚሩዶ ይውዳእ ኮይኑ፡ ርግጽ ሰምየን ምዕራባዊ ሃገርና፡ እቲ ጋሥ-ሰቲት ምድሪ ኩናማ ኣምለኅቲ እንኮ ኣና ነበረ? እምበር ዓዲ ኣስላም ተዛረብቲ ዓረብ ኣይነበረን፡ ብድሩስ ትውፊት ዝመጸ ኮነ ዕሊ ኣምልኆ፡ አሪትራ ኣግዚያዊት ነበረት፡ ካብ 2ይ ክፍላ 19ይ መዋ. ድክ. ግን ብልሳን ዓረብ ምጽሓፍን ምምዝጋብን ጀመረ፡ እዚ ሓረግ ከጋጊ የብሉን፡ ፍልጠት ሓድሓደ ኣባል በተክህነት ተርግዋም ቅ. ጽሑፍ፡ ገድሊ፡ ሕጊ፡ ሳይንስ ካልእ ዓይነት ዓረባዊ ጽሑፍ ሓደ ኣገዳሲ መንጽር ምህሮ ልሳን ከኣ ከፈተ፡ ክሳዕ ኢየሩሳለም ንግደት ዝከደ ሞኖኮስ ምስ ካልእ እማኒ፡ ዓረብ ተመሃረ ክንብል ኢና፡ ዓቕሚ ምህሮኡ ግን` ኣይሰፈርናን
    ወረርቲ እቶም ዓባሳዊያን (ከሊፋታት ባግዳድ) ሕልፊ ዝቐደሙ ዑማያዊያን (ከሊፋታት ደማስቆ) ንዳህላክ ጽዕንቶ እምነቶምን ትውፊቶምን ኣዕለቡሉ፡ ናበይቲ ስርዓት ባግዳድ ነቲ ደስየታዊ ወገና ካብ ኣውራ-የብሱ በተኁዎ፡ ልሳኖም ከም ሓዲስ ኣስላማይ እምነቶምን ትውፊቶምን ኣብኡ ዘረዉ እሞ ኣብኡስ ብሓቂ ሱር ሰደደ፡ ግን ኣብኡ ጥራይ ኢዩ፡ ከምቲ ኣግኣዚ ኣብ መኣዲ እምነት መሓመድ ዘይተሓወሱ ከምኡ ኣስላም ምስ ዓረባዊ ዘረባኦም ኣብዚ ገጽ ኣፍሪቃ ተወገዙ፡ ብስም እቶም ትማሊ እንከሎ ሎሚ ዲዮም “ነጋዶ ባሮት” ዘረፍቲ ምዝራብ ኣይኮነን ዕላዊ ዚኀውን፡ ልሳን ዓረብ ኪጉናዕ፡ ትግረ፡ 30% ልሳን ህዝቢ ኪውገድከ መን ይብህግ
    ሎሚኀ እንታይ ዓረባዊ ኣሰር ተረፎ ደስየት ዳህላክ፡ ኣብ ንግዲ፡ ኣብ ሃይማኖት፡ ርግጽ ሓይሊ ይህሉዎ”፡ ከም ተራ መዋስእ ልሳን ደስየታዊያን ግን ትግረ፡ ኣፋር፡ ዳሃሊክ ልሙድን ህዝባዊን ጸንሐ፡ እቲ ርኡይ፡ ዕሊታት ሃይማኖት እስላም ዚምስክር ሓያሎ ዑና መቓብር፡ ምስ ወለዶዊ ሓባሪ መዘክሩ፡ ብመንጽር ልሳን ኮነ ዛንታ ኣገዳሲ ኢዩ፡ ኣገዳሲ እሞ ዛጊት ዘይተገምገመ ምበልና፡ ናይ ምውት ወለዶ፡ ዕድመ፡ መንነት፡ ወዘተ. ብፍሉይ ካሊግራፍ (እንከሎ በቲ እዱም ኩፊ ቅርጹ) ምዝጉብ ዚርአን፡ ዛጊት ኣብ ወረቐት ዘይተሓተመ ቃላዊ ታሪኅን መገደሰና እሞ ነየናይ ስርዓት ሃገር ኢና ክንላቦ፡ ተማሊ በቶም መራኀስቲ ጣልያን ዝተዘረፈን ዚዓኑ ዘሎን ደስየታዊ ሓድጊና፡ ልሳን ዓረብ ልሳና ይኁን ኣይኁን የሕዝን ኢዩ፡ ኣብዚ እውን ክስፈትና መገምት የብሉን
    ኣብ ወሳስን ባሕሪና ዝሰፈሩ ካብ ሰምየን ሳሐል ናብ ደቡብ ኣፋር፡ ነጋዶኦም፡ ገፈፍቲ ዓሳኦም፡ ሓጀጅቶም ነቲ ልሳን ዓረብ ምስ ልሳናቶም፡ ኣፋር፡ ትግረ፡ ሳሆ? መሳሊ ከም ዝደረቡዎ ክንእምት፡ ገለ ጀበርቲ ነጋዶ ኮይኖም ምስ ትግራዊኦም ኪጥቀሙሉ፡ ናብ ምዕራባዊ ቆላና ገጽና ክንጥምት ከኣ እቶም ሕዳረብ ብፍላይ ምስ ትግረን በጃዊን ኪደራርቡዎ ምስ ካልኦት ናብ ሱዳን ዚሰግሩ ኮኑ ንየው-ነጅው ዚብሉ ወገናት ምስቶም ሰብ ሱዳን እውን ኪዋስኡሉ እንተ ጸንሑ፡ ልሳን ዓረብ ነቲ ቀሃሚ ወይ ብቀደሙ ስሑው ዘረባ ቁሠታዊ ቅላስ “ዳሃሊክ” ሓድጊና እክዋ ኣይሰረዞን፡ ልሳን ዓረብ ከም ንጽበዮ ልሳን ዓረብ ተረፈ፡ ዓረብ ማዕዶ መበቆሉን ዓዱን ከም ዝነበረ፡ ከምኡ ጸንሓና፡ እዚ ሰሩ ብሓዲስ እቲ እምነት እስላም ኣብ ወገናትናን ዱቡብ ሕግዋናን ኣብ ነዊሕ ዘበን ካን እፉፍ-ውጉዝ ነበረ፡ እቲ ጂሃዳዊ ፅፍራ ኣሕመደ ግራይ (1529-1541 ድክ.) ኮነ እቲ ዑትማናዊ-ቱርኪ ወራሪ (1557-1586? ድክ.) ኮነ ቱርከ-ግብጻዊ (ክፍላ መዋ. 19 ድክ.) ኪቕየሮ ኣይከኣለን
    ኣብ ቀረባ ዘመናዊ መዋዕልና እቶም ምዕራብዊያን ከይተዓደሙ ኪውስኑልና ነገር ኪጽይቑልና ጽልዋ ፖሊቲካኦም ኣዕለቡልና፡ ኩሉሳዕ ብፍላጥ-ክፋእ ዶ ነበረ፡ እንድዒሎም፡ ይንገሩና፡ ኣብ ሓምሳታት ብፍላይ ንልሳን ዓረብ ንምንታይ ሓለዩ፡ እንትርፊ ኪገምዑን ኪገዝኡን፡ ግን ዓረባዊ ከም ዕላዊን ትምህርታዊን ናውቲ ከገልግል ጥቕሙ ነበሮ፡ ኣብ ትልሙ፡ ኪኁለፍ ዛንታን ትውፊትን ደጊም ተገመየና፡ እቲ ጥቕሙ እዚ ኢዩ፤ ብልሳን ዓረብ ዝተቐለመ መዛግብ ዛንታ ምንባብ ምረድኣና፡ እቲ ዓረባዊ መዛግብ መን ኢዩ ዘንብበልና ሎሚ፡ ብዘይ መጠን ውሑድ ኢዩ ፍቕዱን ዓቕሙን ክኢላና ክንብል ድፍረት እንተመሰለ፡ ተርጎምቲ ሰብ ሓቦ ከም ዚጎድሉና ጥርጥር የልቦን፡ እዚታት ከስ ነቲ ሕቶ ልሳን ዓረብ ምፍኅዋስ፡ ዕላዊ ይኁን ኣይፋሉን ምባል ኣይኣክልን
    ሰብ ብሪታኒያ ወይ ኣመሪካ ፋዕራ ልሳንዶ ነበሮም፡ ካብ ልሳን ከኣ ልሳን ዓረብ ዶ ፈተዉ፡ ፈተዉልና፡ ነኪራን ዘርኢ፡ ንልሳን ዓረብ ጽረ ሓድነት ህዝቢ አሪትራ ከም ዝወንፀፉዎ ሰንጣቕ ናውቲ መግዛእቲ፡ ሕልፊ ኩናት ነበረ፡ ብሥርሒ፡ ንበልጽ፡ ንሀገሞናዊ ዕላማኦም ሕልፊ ትግረ መረጹዎ፡ እቲ ዋና ህዝቢ አሪትራ ከም ዋና ልሳናቱ ብትኩር ዕሊ ዘቲዩ ኪመርጾ እሞ ከሳነየሉ ዕላዊ ኪበሃል፡ ኪምርጾ ምተገብአ፡ ብሓቂ ዕላዊ ዶ ነበረ፡ ኣይነበረን፡ እዚ ባዕዳን ጥልቕ ጸይቂ ፖሊቲካ ደኣ የመልክት፡ እቲ ጋዘጣ ዓረብና ብከመይ ዝበለ ዓይነት ዓረብ ከም ዝተቐለመ ምግምጋም ከኣ ካልእ ግሉህ ሕመቕ ንጥፈት ዓረባዊ ልሳን ይምስልክር፡ እዚ ካብ ጽሑፍ አ. ኣለንዶርፍ (The Two Zions .. ) ንእምቶ
    ልሳን ዘምጽኦ’ንዲዩ፡ ንገጻት ያታ፡ ትውፊት፡ ዛንታ፡ ድርሰት፡ እምነት / ሃይማኖት፡ ህዝባዊ ፍልስፍና፡ ተርእዮ ዓለም፡ ስነ-ወለዶዊ- ስርዓታዊ ሕድሪ ንብሎ ይሰትር፡ ርቡሕ፡ ዘይግምገም ሃብቲ ሕልናን እንዶን ኩሉ የገድስ ምስ በልና፡ ተምሊስና ንመራኀብ (ከም ምልክታን ሓበረታን ጋዘጣዊ ዕዮ ወይ ብድብዱቡ ዘናዊን ሃይማኖታዊን መንጽር ጥራይ ክንድግፎ ደማዒ ውሳነ ኣይኮነ፡ እንበለ ዘተ፡ ክንውግዶ ለባም ውሳነ ኣይኮነ፡ ከመይሲ ዋላ፡ ምዕራባዊያን ወረርቲን ተበለጽቲን ንዕላማኦም እንተዘይሠረሑልና አውን፡ ሓለይቲ ልሳን ዓረብ ብዙሓት ኣለዉና
    ዓረብ ጥራይ ኣይኮነን፡ ብመንጽራዊ ትውፊትን ዛንታን ድርሰትን ብሱል፡ ኣብ ከባቢኡ ዘሳፍሕን ዚዕብልልን፡ ሎማዊ ጽዕንቶ ልሳን ዓረብ ከቢድ ኢዩ፡ ኩነቱ ብሱሩ ከም ዝተቐየረ ከኣ ግሉጽ ኢዩ፡ ቅያር ልሳናት ከኣ ተተኮሰ፡ ሳዕብየኑ ብሕጂ ኢዩ ኣውራ ዚግምገም፡ ዓረባዊ ንልሳናት አሪትራ፡ እንከሎ ትግረን ትግራዊን ግእዝን፡ ሓደጋ ይልክም፡ ከመይ፡ እወ፡ ዓረባዊ ኣብ አሪትራ ብፍቃድን ፍታውን ህዝቢ ዕላዊ ኪኀውን፡ ብቀስበን፡ ንጉንዖ ሒዶት እሞ ንዕግት “ምልኪ ብዙሓት” እሞ ንባህጊ ኣስላማይ ኣማኒ ነባቢ ቅዱስ መጽሓፍ ብዚብል ሕልና ካብ ተራ ምህሮን ዘናዊ መዓላን ኪሓልፍ ንድኁም ልሳንትና ምስ ዛንታኡን ትውፊቱን ሕድሩን ኪብርዞን ኪድምስሶን ቀሊል ኢዩ፡ እዚ ዘይንጹር እመታ ኣብቲ ምዕራባዊ ዓለም ይነጽር ኣሎ
    በዚ “ግሎባላዊ” ደረት ዝደፍአ ዘበን፡ ርክባት ትውፊትን ፖሊቲካን አኮኖሚን ዓይነት ዝዓዘዘሉ፡ ልሳን ከም እንግሊዝ ነቲ መወዳድርቱ አረ በላጺኡ ዝነበረ ልሳን ፈረንሳ ኪወሮ ጀመሩ ኣሎ፡ ትማሊ-ትማሊ ብሓያሎ መንጽራት ዚዕብልሎ ዝነበረ ይመናጥሎ ኣሎ፡ ዝገደደ ንልሳናት ከም ጀርመን ኮነ ኢጣልያ ከሰንፎ ዝቐለለ ኢዩ፡ ኣብቲ ሳይንሳዊን ኢኮኖሚያዊን ዓውዲ ዚዝውተር ኣውራ ኣውራ እንግሊዛዊ ልሳን ኢዩ፡ ቶባ-ንድሕሪ-ደጊም! ምሁራት ፈረንሳ ሳይንሳዊ ጽሑፍ ዓናቕጾም ኪንበበሎም እሞ ኪፍለጠሎም ብእንግሊዛዊ ግልባጡ ኪዳሎ ይደልዩዎ፡ ኣብ ሰምየን ኢጣልያ ከኣ ሓደ ፖሊተክኒክ እንግሊዛዊ ከም ልሳን ኣስትምህሮ ነቲ ኢጣልያዊ ኪትክእ ዚብል ሕንዚ ክርክር ነዚሑ ይመስል፡ እዚ ሰንኮፍ ሓበረታ ተገዳሲ የጻርዮ
    ደለልቲ ልሳን ዲዮም፡ ስለ ዘይፈልጡዎ ነገር እውን ከይተረፉ ይማጎቱ፡ ከይተዓደሙን ብዕሊ ንህዝቢ ከይወከሉን ኪማጎቱ ከኣ ይስነፉ፡ ካብ ህዝቢ አሪትራ፡ ከም ዋናታት ልሳን ዓረብ፡ ብግቡኡ ኪማጎቱ መሰል ዚህሉዎም፡ እቶም ራሣይዳ ይኆኑ፡ ብይኆኑ መውሳእ ግን ነቶም ሕሉፋት ተሓለቕቲ፡ ውጽኢት ረፈረንዱም ሙሉእ ህዝቢ ዘይቅበሉ መነደር ይኀውን
    ረፈረንዱም ኣስላምን ክርስትያንን ሃገር ጥራይ ኣይኮኑን ካልኦት ከም ኩናማ፡ መራጺ ዘጋ ብጥሩፉ ኢዩ ዚውስኖ፡ ከመይ ኩሉ ብዝወሰኖ ኩሉ ዘጋ ሓዋሩ ኪናበረሉ ኢዩ፡ አቲ ዕላማ መረጻ ልሳን፡ ዕላዊ ይኁን ትምህርታዊ፡ ኣብ ስነስርዓት ዚውዕል ልሳን ከም ግእዝ ወይ ዓረብ ኣብ ስነ ስርዓት ኪውዕል፡ ተሓሳም ኪህሉዎ ኣይግባእን፡ ሕልፊ ምንባይ እንተተደሊዩ ግን ግእዝ ሕልፊ ዓረብ ይህሉዎ፡ ግእዝ ምሁዝ ዓረብ ኣይኮነን፡ ኣፍሪቃዊ ልሳን ኢዩ፡ ሃገራዊ ከም ዕላዊን ትምህርታዊን ሃይማኖታዊን ነበረ እሞ ይቅህም ኣሎ፡ ስኣን ሓልዮት
    እዚ መንጽር ልሳን ኣገዳሲ እሞ ሓላፍነት ዚሓትት ኪኀውን ክልተ ተጻይ ውሳነ መጻልኢን መካሓዲን ኪኀውን ቀሊል ኢዩ፡ ብርግኣት፡ ብሚዛን፡ ከም ሕቶኡ ኪንዋስኣሉ የድሊ፡ እዚ ኪበሃል ክፍላዊ ርእይቶ ጥራይ ግዲ ይኀውን

  • samuel

    Learning Arabic because it can benefit us economically and diplomatically, I cannot agree, since English is the chosen international language and much of business and diplomacy is done in English these days, I don’t understand why it is important to introduce Arabic as lingua franca in Eritrea other than for the fact it has to do with Islam and Quran. It baffles and amazes me why many Muslim black Hamatic Eritreans want to arabize Eritrea when they very well knows that they will never be accepted as arabs by the real arabs. Why do you want to be something that you are not? To please who? Eritreans need to get rid of their inferior complexity, We are not arabs, we will never be arabs. Arabs see the Sudanese as Hawyan, inferior black slaves. You want to be another Arab black slaves by inheriting their culture and their language, but never good enough to be accepted by them…where is your dignity, Eritrean muslims, wake up….Even Egyptians, Sudanese,, Syrians, Lebanese, Libyans, Algerians, Morrocons are not arabs, Even Yemenis..they had their own script and language called ancient Sabean/Yemenite……the only real arabs are the ones in Hijaz area of Saudi Arabia…it is because of the islamic invasions and conversions by the sword…that they forecefully arabized other peoples and destroyed civilizations…..arab beduins are savages, just like they are abusing killing Eritreans Ethiopians Sudanese today they have been doing that for many centuries, so why do you want to adopt the language and culture of your killers and abusers, and slavemasters, who call you Haywan…..?
    http://eastafro.com/Post/2013/11/07/video-nightmare-for-eritrean-ethiopian-migrants-in-saudi-arabia/

    • Eyob Medhane

      Samuel,

      You just stabbed the issue directly in the heart and I say kudos to you!!!!!!!! I loved almost all of what you said.

      Please allow me to provide another link. This is Sal’s favorite Ethiopian band Jano Band. They just released a new single, actually they used few images from the video link you have provided and perfectly highlighted how we are being degraded in by Arabs in Arab land. Please watch..

      http://www.diretube.com/jano-band/tazebkut-music-video-of-the-day-video_78a56bb17.html#.Un0h-ZTwLY8

      Sal,

      Now Jano band gave me a reason to love them….

      • samuel

        Lebanese Man beating Ethiopian maid in front of her embassy in Beirut. The girl comitted suicide after the incident, probably because of ongoing abuse.

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2012/mar/15/ethiopian-maid-publicly-abused-suicide-lebanon-video

        • Serray

          Many things are shocking about the video: a bunch of men are beating a helpless woman who did them no harm, many people are watching and did nothing to help but what is truly shocking is it is happened in front of the ethiopain embassy and they let the savages put her in a car and drove her to death. The savages killed her…what a backward society!

      • Beyan Negash

        Eyob,

        I thought you were more reasonable than that – you’re playing the emotional rhetoric to make your point. OK, please answer this question for me then. Did you see the report about modern day slavery in the world today. Ethiopia is listed there somewhere. In case, you didn’t see it here is the link:

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/10/17/236212198/india-china-top-list-of-nations-with-most-slaves

        Now, shouldn’t we worry about putting our house in order than trying to blame other countries for their untoward treatment of what they deem foreigner that is really difficult to mitigate.

        We can certainly work toward rectifying the problems in our respective countries than blaming others. The only reason these Ethiopians and Eritreans who are finding themselves in foreign lands is because their homeland has not done enough to keep them within.

        So, please Eyob, let us not use emotional tantrums to gain grounds in arguments. Is it that important for you to win an argument against Sal to a point of going way out on a limb to try to sell us emotional garbage from the Arab world, out of whose culture nothing good comes out anyway.

        Arabs have their own problems let us deal with ours.

        Regards,
        Beyan

        • Eyob Medhane

          Beyan,

          Wow wow wow…do you know why the over half a million are under categorized in Ethiopia for modern slavery in the very data you provided? It is because the EXACT issue that Samuel and I are talking about. Particularly women getting transported to Arab countries and being enslaved and treated in a barbaric manner. The Ethiopian government was deservedly criticized for not doing more to prevent it. That is part of the reason that we recently heard the ban of employment in Arab countries, the constitution of a new commission to address the issue and constant media awareness campaign.

          • Beyan Negash

            Eyob,

            All I am trying to point out is that it is not in the language – the savagery that we see being perpetrated by these Arab Animals has nothing to do with their language – it is in their backward culture. I have addressed this in different thread in which I gave a number of examples, one of which bears repeating is one of slavery in the U.S. English language was not the culprit, the savages and the Barbarians were white people of the time just as one that we are seeing now in these Arab savages.

            These clips are way too painful to watch. An Ethiopian man was gunned down in Saudi Arabia and now this young woman commits suicide because nobody was willing to intervene in her behalf. Cursing these Arabs from here to eternity won’t change a thing.

            One does not try to mitigate something that is outside one’s purview. You as Ethiopian citizen and I as Eritrean we can begin to address the root causes that are leading these Ethiopians and Eritreans alike to leave their country in droves.

            In the case of the latter the monumental obstacle that is in the way is the political system that much is clear. As in the case of the former, a great deal can be accomplished just as you alluded to it, the Ethiopian government needs to be profusely criticized and made to respond to the needs of its public.

            People are not going to these ungodly places as tourists they are there because they want to earn decent living wages that which their country was unable to provide. I am painfully aware that that takes a lot longer than merely twenty two years that Ethiopian government has been in power. It has done a lot but it needs to be pressured to do a great deal more.

            Democratic project takes a long time to institute. I am huge proponent of John Dewey’s philosophy of education who understood that no country can become fully democratic without education. In “Freedom and Culture” Dewey (1939) advances progressive ideas of democratic education in which he suggests that the “struggle for democracy has to be maintained on as many front as culture has aspects: political, economic, international, educational scientific and artistic, religious” (p. 137).

            So, Eyob, my friend, we need to think long and hard to bring forth ideas that have lasting impact, ideas that can make our region the Horn of Africa, a region of prosperity, a region of civility, and a region that can sustain itself without having to resort to the likes of Saudi Arabia, which clearly considers any human being born in Saudi Arabia to foreign citizens as disposable, thus, could not be afforded education beyond high school.

            This is a wealthy nation that keeps its people in the dark. Did you know Eyob that there is not a single public library in this Petro-driven Desert Kingdom? Wrap your head around that for a moment. What kind of population is it producing, no public library for crying out loud – a nation that is drowning in oil, a commodity that ought to belong to all Saudis; but, of course, the royal families are the ones who own all of it and the rest of the population receives the trickled down version of it through myriad exploitations that its citizenry affords to perpetuate on foreigners; that has now become so contentious that the government is herding human beings as though they were animals to return to their respective countries.

            Beyan

          • Eyob Medhane

            Bryan,

            It seems that you recently updated yourself with much of these information recently. Alem Dechasa, (The young lady, who you saw in this clip being dragged and later committed suicide) Happened some almost two years ago. Her situation, actually changed a lot of things for better (relatively speaking) There was unprecedented international outcry about it, in fact some Lebanese went out demonstration carried a placard that apologized for their behavior. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/20124775835431799.html
            Her treatment and later death led to Ethiopian government signing several agreements with several Arab countries regarding employment. Particularly, with Kuwait. Which, (again relatively speaking) is put a checking system in place on abusive employers. My issue is the ban that has been instituted last week, should have been in place then. When Alem Dechasa (the young lady, who committed suicide) died. Especially, with Saudis. They seem to be the most barbaric ones. Because of some trade and export issue, every time, they seem to have been getting their way. The fact that you mentioned that large number of them are uneducated desert snakes, who live off oil sell subsidy makes them think that they are untouchable and as long as the oil exists they can live as morons as they can get, until kingdom come. They can fathom the fact that oil is a commodity that can be depleted, substituted with another energy generator or can be discovered elsewhere, especially in the vastly untapped Africa. God bless China that might not even take that long. About the language, Beyan, what you may not followed was that (language) is what they use to spread their backward way of life and bastardize other cultures around the world, by subtly making a false and blasphemes claim that is ‘Arab culture and Arabic is equivalent to Islam, you take Islam means you take Arabic and Arabism’….

        • Beyan Negash

          Eyob,

          Thanks for bringing me up-to-speed about the events that I have missed while I was in that perpetual state of Rip Van Winkle mode. At least mine was not twenty years, but gaping hole of lacking in information, no less.

          Beyan

      • saay

        Selamat Eyob:

        It’s a great video from a great band with a great message. The video juxtaposes images of the proud Ethiopian (warrior images) with the disempowered/humiliated Ethiopian (refugee.) Now imagine an Eritrean did that: the warrior images would have to be from Ghedli. Jano is appealing to Ethiopian pride and greatness: lucky for them, there are no Ethiopians railing about romanticizing abyot.

        No comment on your Arab-language bashing until you recover from your nervous breakdown. 🙂

        saay

      • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

        Dear Eyob,
        Is that Eyob? How comes you are so emotional? Calm down my friend. First every event is for good. God never bring an event except to call us and correct our journey.
        I don’t blame Arabs for the following reasons.
        01.Saudi Arabia is not our country. My country is Eritrea. If for any reason I chose to stay in KSA, I will follow their rules. To be legal resident in KSA, the authorities ask you to complete the legal process and have your (Iqama) resident permit with your profession and must work with your sponsor. In the recent actions taken in deporting people they gave 6 months chance. Remember you came to their country as worker not as refuge.
        02.If they hit you or treat you badly, again you should remember that you are suppose to live in your respected country before blaming them. If you are an Eritrean, you must create your legal government instead of staying illegal in KSA. There are a lot of opportunists Eritreans who pay whatever PFDJ ask them and dance while you are suffering and you should start to think what to do.
        03. You must admit that there are a lot of prostitute ladies (which is absolutely prohibited in KSA ) . Why is that? For money?

        04.There are people among Habesha who change their name and religion to show they are loyal to some sponsor. All this is just for money. As far as I know earlier an Ethiopian never changes his name and religion.

        So before blaming others we need to know where the problems are first. Ethiopian people are not supposed to go to KSA. Men are sending their daughters, sisters, daughters to KSA just to earn money. That is shame. Now Ethiopia at least has a government that can listen and everybody has a chance to work. Now Ethiopian people have one enemy (poverty) and the solution is to work –in your own country.
        Now, I feel bad watching the link you put. I remember in 1970’s Ethiopia decided to deport Arabs. At that time (where there was no such developed technology) they went out from the country respected and with dignity. And they are coming and going now freely. Most of their children are making business in Ethiopia.
        But we can’t change others we need to change our thinking. Yes, Ethiopians have good culture of respecting others but the only weakness is that they don’t think their country is richer than others. If they work and suffer they way they do it in Arab countries for some years, they will live respected by creating prosperous country.
        About language my friend that has nothing to do with the current even. Again language is for communication.
        You may not like what I put above. Since I love habesha people more than Arabs I should stand with them by facing the reality. I believe accepting the truth is heroism. I believe finding the main problem is the wisdom that leads you to the solution

        Thank you for reading to the end.

        • Eyob Medhane

          No matter how much you defend their barbaric acts, I doubt they will be thankful for it. They would look at your defending them as a simple duty of an ‘abeed’ doing what he should do, if one wants to stay in good terms with the master.

          You said “…remember in 1970’s Ethiopia decided to deport Arabs. At that time (where there was no such developed technology) they went out from the country respected and with dignity. And they are coming and going now freely. Most of their children are making business in Ethiopia…”

          Is that this all about? And no their ‘children’ are not coming back. Because you know one famous person that does not mean we are letting our guards from keeping away barbarism. If they were ‘coming back’ you would have seen Ethiopia being a haven for wahabis and training ground for suicide bombers. Read this news that just came out to day. Couple that with the ban on travel for employment to Arab countries. Once what is in the news ( full repatriation is completed, the next step would be keeping the barbarians at the arms length…
          http://news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-bring-home-illegal-workers-saudi-arabia-075929674.html

          • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

            Dear Eyob,
            I gave up; since you are in emotion I don’t want you make more mistakes since you start talking about religion.

          • abu yara

            Eyob i believe you are one of those fead with hate and grown up brainwashed to despise islam. No mater one try to help you understand with no avail. In an other word hopeless!

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      Samuel!

      Very good approch!

      But those who preach arabic for Eritrea or any part of africa they themselves know exactly their places. And still they want to Accept their infiriority in Exchange of dominating eritrea’s political and economical life by imposing arabic culture (good eg Somalia) on the horn peoples. Beiseds they enjoy their supriority against the other religion if they get the Power they want With arab dollar(good example sudan vs South sudan). They have said it in different occastions but they dont use this argument directly.

      One of the disaster of having a dictatorship is all sorts of Groups rise against it and we dont know who is taking over after it. We have witnessed this in Egypt how the islamist Brother Hood had taking over.

      Besides arabaising eritrea is the least problem how the arabs look at eritreans compared to the invitation of the proxy war between the arab and the west on controlling red sea. It is one thing isayas doesnt allow his red sea part for the west and it is completly another thing giving Eritrea for the Arabs. If any body thinks that somalis are crzay People that they kill one another for nothing then we learn nothing from Our horn history. I think we have forgotten Ours very soon.

      • Kim Hanna

        Tamrat Tamrat,

        There is a lot of wisdom in what you said. The same black Africans when they are in KSA or other wealthy Arab places, they are called by special names of bigotry and treated as sub humans themselves. The minute they come out they defend and exalt the same Barbarians as the source of all wisdom and use any trick in the book to absolve them of any responsibility. Nobody is saying that all of them are savages. Not all Italians were Fascist. It is sad and pathetic.
        It might be poor Ethiopians that we see a glimpse of their mistreatment now, but I am pretty sure it goes on in a large scale to us and others of the same predicament.

        KH

  • samuel

    Awate is a biased forum, they refuse to publish my comments regarding arabizing a black african nation like Eritrea, just a proud black Kushtic nation as Sudan was arabized to become a shadow of its former great civilization.

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      do you use geez characters? then you have to wait until they check their filter.

  • Ahmed Raji

    How did a review of a literary work turn into this highly politicized discussion of language policy in Eritrea? (Not that the issue of language is not worth debating. … But that is a different matter).

    A work of literature is not a political manifesto, and, as such, it is viewed through a literary, not a political or ideological, lens. It is judged by its authenticity, the beauty of its language, depth, complexity, and the extent to which it captivates its reader, and less by what positions it takes. It is not expected to state ‘correct’ views or provide solutions.

    So, back to my question: why do we seem to have lost our ability to do normal things, like talking about a novel when the thread we are supposed to comment on is about a novel ???!

    • beyan negash

      Selamat Ahmed,

      On the day the book review was posted, I attempted to steer the conversation by preemptively and proactively, the copied and pasted version of it you will see below, in hopes of not politicizing a work of literature by injecting our ideological leanings and that instead we should enjoy it for what it is, ostensibly, to no avail.

      This has been one source of consternation to me for the longest, but I realize now that Eritreans just want to vent and that they don’t necessarily come to Awate.com to enlighten or be enlighten by ideas. It is a space in which majority join in to win on the positions they take, to become skilled debaters, if you will.

      So, Ahmed, do not count on receiving a straight answer to your question either. I doubt you will receive any straight answer; in fact, if your question gains any traction and conversations ensue, it won’t be about the topic you raise but about seemingly unrelated issues, ostensibly, providing you with an answer that there is no redeeming value to the scattered Eritrean brain anymore – We are all over the place, evidence for our inability to articulate what it is we ultimately want and that is frustrating to the core.

      Beyan Negash on November 4, 2013 at 8:19 am said:

      Dear Awate Team,

      What a befitting theme to make a segue with, as you move seamlessly from the unfortunate tragedy of Lampedusa vis-à-vis Saleh Gadi’s transitional piece, into the world of literature through a book review. That is just fantastic way to shift the paradigm.

      However, I am going to brace myself in hoping against hope that this book review does not get immersed into that contentious issue of language as opposed to the sheer joy of works of literature. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there goes a classic example of how literature will be demeaned by people who can only see through the prism of politics and who are so literate in their interpretation that they are incapable of seeing beyond the proverbial forest for the tree. They are only able to see the tree (the details) of the forest but not the bigger picture (the forest) itself.

      Oh, poor literature might you suffer this oppugnancy in the hands of those who need you the most. Doubly oppugnant is those who toil to produce works of literature to only be insulted by the readers who do not appreciate the fruits and the love of your labor.

      The devolution, sad to say, has begun in earnest. By the time another article is posted and this topic is exhausted, the central theme of the book would have been long forgotten and people will be talking about the opposition this and the supporters that – that’s Eritrean style of dialogue for you.

      Beyan

    • Serray

      Ahmed,

      Maybe because of the following two paragraphs from a review of a book written in arabic…the red meat is simply irresistable to both sides. Personally, I also think it is because the defensive way it is argued by the proponents which attracts the “no way, no how” crowd – thirty years of propaganda at work.

      “Another important point Samrawit raises is the issue of official languages in Eritrea. The policy of the Eritrean government towards Arabic is obscure. On one hand, the government issues an Arabic language newspaper, on another hand, it makes it difficult for a wider public access. Omar can’t find Eritrea Al-Haditha newspaper in the heart of the capital city of Eritrea. He also discovers the content is treated differently on Haddas Ertra, and Eritrea Al-Haditha, respectively; Tigrinya and Arabic government owned newspapers. Issues are addressed in more detail in the former than the later.

      In addition, in Jeddah where Arabic is the language of communication between Eritreans, the Eritrean government representatives impose Tigrinya as the language of a communication in their public meetings, although they know that the audience understands Arabic more than Tigrinya. That is followed by persons who translators what was said in Tigrinya into Arabic; as a result time is wasted and the meetings become boring”.

  • Horizon

    Nowadays, for the ordinary Ethiopian, especially the young Ethiopian generation, Tigrigna as a language connotes a language spoken by people of Tigray. Eritrea is in the remotest recesses of their minds, unlike ours, who would have asked right away, who are you talking about, when Tigrinya is mentioned, a person from Tigray or Eritrea. As time passes, Eritrea is drifting away in the minds of the majority of Ethiopians, even in the older generation’s mind. It is withering away day by day, and as much as the young generation is concerned, it never existed in the first place.
    Asmarigna might have been said with a modern cosmopolitan city in mind, and not with the aim to degrade anybody. Surely, an Asmara person is more sophisticated and possibly more talented compared to a person from Keren or Massawa, and the language may be spoken in a slightly different tone and tint as is usually done by the young, and the same is true with a young people from Addis Ababa when compared to other Ethiopian towns. These cities are the center of education and under the direct influence of modern life, imported from different corners of the world.
    Therefore, I really do not understand why there should be a big fuss about nothing. Let us not look for a problem where there is none. As village boys, we were envious of Addis Ababa boys. A Marcato boy/girl is wittier than the ordinary Addis Ababan of his/her age. It is all under the influence of the surrounding.
    Unlike Americans and many other nations, Ethiopians are not people who enjoy listening to other people’s plight, especially the plight of Eritreans. Saying that the host was trying to lead this Eritrean in to accusing the regime in Asmara or life in Eritrea to the Ethiopian public at a TV show is unfair. There is ETV for that. You see, the problem is in the old anathema that Eritreans and Ethiopians should never mix.
    The greatness of our Habesha culture is that we can spoil the day for everybody, and we can make an issue out of a none issue. This talented man is being scrutinized, sliced and diced to fit Ethio-Eritrean politics.
    For Christ sake, leave him alone. Try to be positive citizens. A successful Eritrean is a successful Eritrea. There is no danger that he would mutate to an Ethiopian. Try to show him the way to success, because I am sure that he will succeed if given the chance, instead of interpreting what this young and talented Eritrean and the presenter of the program said.

    • Selam Horizon,

      “A successful Eritrean is a successful Eritrea” is a pure antidote to the effect of a poison of nonsense argument made against this talented Eritrean. Well said. Do not stop of making issues into a proper horizon when we failed to do so.

      respect,
      Amanuel Hidrat

  • Eyob Medhane

    Sal,

    I don’t know why everybody going ga ga for Jano Band. For me, they’re aiight. Y’know wha I meeeen….

    Here is their CNN Interview

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYyGTZH980s

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHAwgCJuuHM

    • saay

      Eyobai buddy:

      Did you check the second link you gave? It vindicates the SAAY Index: there is a direct correlation between a country’s economic development and it’s embrace of heavy metal music. The other African country besides Ethiopia which is experimenting with local heavy metal is: Botswana. Check out its economic development.

      Ayrqm.

      saay

      • Eyob Medhane

        Sal,

        I have no idea what they told you about the video director (choreographer) of this video, All I know is she is the daughter of Dr. Ashenafi Kebede, the famous classical musician and a sister of Senait Ashenafi the actress of the day time TV ‘General Hospital’ and frequent guest star of the 90s hit ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. Aida’s success, however has absolutely nothing to do with nepotism, as some in this forum would like to claim 😉 but merit. Her late father’s classical ‘bale washintu eregna’ is legendary and my favorite. Please, enjoy.

        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I1TySNjPVMQ

        • saay

          Eyobai:

          It’s nobody’s fault: you are musically disinclined. Tone deaf. You were pitching a guy whose “music” you listened at a new year party. Mr Auto Tune himself.

          Here’s salvation

          http://youtu.be/JIcDuu_cfAw

          Go to 2:45

          THAT is talent.

          saay

          • Eyob Medhane

            Sal,

            Well that is not bad. Not bad at all. Well, when it comes to Aster, still I prefer her old songs. The ones that my older brothers used to jam with. These days, I have a problem identifying real voice and the computer adjusted one.

            There is this new kid that seems to be a flavor of the month and my wife insisted that he’s ‘the best’ and she dragged me to his concert, when he had a tour some time ago. Oh, my God!! His voice in his CD or youtube and on stage is just completely different, I had a problem accepting that it actually was the same person. You know what? I’ll let you judge for yourself.

            Compare this two clips, and make a lier out of me..

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zHR7HXj8IY

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2B_PddV-o8

            on this account, how would I know that Aster’s is not computer adjusted? See my point?

  • Papillon

    Dear Beyan,

    I sure don’t mean to make a mountain out of a molehill so to speak but there is something rather disconcerting about the whole show. Tedros appears to be the “un-personification” of the Eritrean in him. First of all, the host was a bit condescending when he said, “Asmar’gna” as opposed to Tigrinya as he introduced Tedros to the audience. Moreover, Tedros seemed to be holding back the kind of journey that he took to get to Ethiopia for it is degrading. It saddens me to see the once high-held-up-walk of an Eritrean snuffed where once upon a time the onlookers (read: audiences) watched with an envy and “sneering contempt”.

    ሓፍትኻ

    • Eyob Medhane

      Papillon,

      I don’t know how good your Amharic is. But for the host saying “Asmerigna” is not condescending AT ALL. It means “qebeligna” (Dialect, in English) He wanted him to speak in an Asmara dialect rather than a typical Tigrigna. Had Tedros come from Keren, the host would have asked him to speak Kerenigna.

      For Tedros not being detailed about his journey. He is on EBS. (Ethiopian Broadcasting Service) A private TV station, which usually shies away from politics and controversial topics. (They just started a very scant and ‘walk on the rope’, very timid political ‘news and views’ show couple of months ago. They have been in business for 8 years without having conflict with the government and they want to keep it that way I guess. Hence, they advise their guests to stay away from discussing controversial political topics. That may be the reason Tedros focused only on his impression. If he was on ETV, the state media, you would have heard an earful on his journey.

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        Eyob,
        I agree with the second paragraph of your comment. The first one? Well, there is nothing called Asmarigna language in Eritrea. There is only Tigrinya, regardless of the small differences of dialects which are very subtle for a Tigrinya speaker like me to notice. Asmara people talk fast (faster that New Yorkers), the man doesn’t qualify for that. His speed is closer to the way Kerenites talk: slow.

        There is no language or dialect called “Asmarigna.” Not everything should end in “…gna” 🙂 I don’t believe saying “Asmarigna” was condescending; it was foolish. Let’s move on.

        The star (that you kidnapped) stated he is Eritrean; he might be from Massawa or Dekemhare or somewhere else—there are other places beside Asmera you know! But his ezih Zuria a’lle ezam zuria a’lle stuff is the foolishness that many fall into–defining Eritrea and Ethiopia through the prism of Habesha culture (approximately 20% of the total population of both countries). Let’s say, in trying to appease his audience, he stated some senseless and untrue statements that I don’t consider serious. But I give him one: he knows how to tickle the sentiments of his audience, a born showman.

        • Eyob Medhane

          Gash Saleh,

          True. Seifu fantahun is not a Tigrigna speaker, therefore, he had no idea what the difference is between different Tigrigna dialects. However, we hear up to our necks that Eritrean dialect, especially Asmarinos is so different. (Mostly we hear that from Eritreans) Therefore, He was trying to be jovial and to make him comfortable by letting him to introduce himself in his own ‘qebeligna’ (Amharic word for dialect) We don’t know the ‘subtle’ difference, as you said. We are just told repeatedly that the difference is ‘so huge’. We take it at Asmarinos word, and invite you to speak with it 😉

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Lij Eyob,
            Not take my comment as absolute…I was talking about Eritrean Tigrnya that are more or less the same, including many parts of Tigrai. But for some reason, some asmarinos pick on the dialect of Agame region and feel Eritrean dialect is superior to that. How a language becomes superior to another, solely based on the way people pronounce words, is beyond me. But the Amhara also make fun of Wollo dialect. In Wollo they say, sqlegn (as in hang me) to board a bus–those who feel they have superior dialect would say, Awtagn (as in kick me out) That is the few things I know about Amharic dialects. I stop here before I go to Gonderie, etc. But before I finish, allow me pick on you: when Ormiffa speakers talk in Amharic it is very evident. They have a problem pronouncing the sades alphabet and pronounce it as salls: Ljtwa TmeTallech become Lijitiwa TimeTalech with added and emphasized “i”. Is your Amharic like that Eyob 🙂

          • Eyob Medhane

            Gash Saleh,

            Ooooo…don’t get me started.. 🙂

            One thing About Amharic is it is very adoptive language. Throughout centuries it has demonstrated its growing power by adopting cognates and words from other languages. You brought up Wello Amharic. Very interesting and insightful example. In Southern Wello (In the area of Qallu and Wereillu) The Wolloyes bent their Amharic a bit and adopted so many cognates, expressions and words from Oromiffa. In Northern Wello, Amharic speakers from Korem adopted so many Tigrigna words from Tigray, you have to strain to listen to some of the things they say. In Dessie, Combolcha and Woldia, (Central Wollo) because of a history of strong presence of Yemenis a long time ago, you probably encounter a lot of Arabic words and expressions. (Eg. In the Amhara region, it is only in Central Wollo, where showing someone a back of your shoe is an insult, which obviously came from Arab culture. Also Mohammed Alamudi is from that area).

            As far as ‘Afan Oromo’ Speakers pronunciation of Amharic words, your observation is uncanny. (Actually, I grew up calling the Oromo language as ‘Afan Oromo, instead of ‘Oromiffa’. It became Oromiffa, only after EPRDF took over 😉 ) I think the difference is part of the contradiction of Amharic or Tigrigna, which has a semetic roots and Afan Oromo, which has a cushitic roots. One cool thing I can tell you about Afan Oromo is you can express many things in just one word as opposed to Amharic or Tigrigna which constructs so many words and form a sentence to describe one thing. I thing that goes to Somali and Swahili also. (Eg. Hargesa. The word ‘Hargesa’ is both Oromiffa and Somali. It means (roughly) ‘the way to the ocean (water)’ or ‘let’s go to the ocean (water). In both Amharic or Tigrigna, even in English, you would have to construct bunch of words to say just that. Isn’t that cool? As far as my Afan Oromo is concerned, it’s getting worse by the day. There are so many new words these days, it is becoming hard to catch up. Besides, there is a new culture springing up, which is translating some english words directly, when teenager Oromiffa speakers are confusing the heck out of me, when they speak in Oromiffa. Generally, though, even though different style of speaking in each region, there are two large branches of Afan Oromo. One of them is called Shewa Oromiffa, which uses a lot of Amharic words alternatively and pronounces it’s words very lightly stress on the tongue. The other one is called Wollega or Borena Oromiffa, heavy on so many Arabic and Somali cognates and very heavy on stressing each word they that is uttered. Those you said ‘pronounce the salls’, when they speak Amharic are those of this type of Oromiffa speakers. Well…that’s the little I know. Those, who know better can correct me and fill the rest…..

      • Kim Hanna

        Dear Papillon, Eyob and Saleh G,

        Papillon brought out a molehill and it is gathering momentum to make it a hill. Let me add my 2 cents here to the effort. I know words matter, even a single word. Asmarigna does not have any negative condescending message in it. Just tell me in your own language. That is what it said.

        All languages I am sure, but Amahric specially has its own way of coloring the communication in a beautiful hidden way. For example, I don’t want to come between friends here, but the use of the word “Lij” normally is a positive sometimes down right affectionate term. However, when used only when the individual irritates you it has a different tone. (Kind of you little..) I am just contributing towards the building of that hill, you know.

        KH

        • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

          Kim Hanna,

          I and Eyob are fine, build you hill somewhere else dear 🙂 I address him as Lij Eyob, and he addresses me as Gash Saleh–you’ll never build a hill of what you got. Beside, I imagine him with a regal auro, with all that come with it, affectionately 🙂 Aydel Lij Eyob?

    • Beyan Negash

      zKheberki Haftey Papillon,

      It is that unique ability that you seem to possess which takes you straight to the heart of the matter that I find awe inspiring. Indeed, I, too, saw where the host wanted to take the conversation towards, which is as you mentioned for the young man to go to the deep end and to that “confession box” whereupon to speak in contempt of Eritrean people. But, Tedros held his own as any proud Eritrean would – the stubborn Eritrean in him – wouldn’t allow him to venture to that venue of putting his people down; and the best way he deflected it was paraphrasing here, ezza bunna, zuria, injera alle, ezihim endezza (referring to Addis Abeba) and went right into singing, which I thought Tedros sniffed the show out of the host’s control.

      Each time the host tried to steer the conversation to that place of condescension, Tedros took it right back; for he he had the fodder, which is his uncanny ability to sing and his cannon (the audience) that wanted nothing more than to listen to his unmatched abilities of not only appropriating those he mimicked, but also personifying them, as it were, becoming them as he sang.

      So, as far as I was concerned, Tedros did really hold his own and stole the show.

      One minor thing that I observed besides of what you had mentioned is that the way in which Twedros Atakilti was spelled instead of the typical Eritrean way, which, more or less, would’ve been Tedros Atakhlti. So, I dig your skepticism, but that is part and parcel of fast moving world we are inhabiting today, where the producers and directors probably did not bother to even ask how he spelled his name, but it speaks to the concerns you raised, which is legitimate one. Unfortunately, neither of us seems to know the show other than through Eyob – our ambassador and our window to everything Ethiopian – perhaps, he can enlighten us some more.

      Hawkhi,
      Beyan

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      Hi Papilon!

      Condescending!! Then watch ethiopian idol judes like Sertse Feresebehat then you would understand where we are how we adress guests in Ethiopia shows. Instead of injoying the show you end up agitated by the host rudeness. I hope after more shows and critics it will be better. Other wise ‘Asmarigna’ on this one i dare to defend him he just mean not the Language but the way do Things in Asmara compared to addis. No more or less. If you see the host was bussy weather the Asmara night Clubs Plays amharic Music or not. And good you mentioned the audience. I love them how the Cheer Theowdros.

  • saay

    Selamat Eyob:

    Thanks for bringing to my attention the threat that Arabic imperialism poses to Eritrea*. I have found some shocking evidence for this on them internet tubes:

    Here’s one:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/85935157@N00/3399518346/in/photolist-6bpqnh-3jP7PB-f2MwBG-dHZsRZ-u9gvU-4TyBUH-87kqoL-4hoEcs-4gLnE1-biM8E-87ks8w-6Fi9yB-8iuYKM-84S5tV-5PqKvX-4MrBmZ-crvQLS-8vV6Qb-7nAaCb-8vV7bm-7nAqVs-6aLtbm-6aLsJJ-6aLsfh-6aGi4g-6aGhuM-6aLsrj-6aGhKR-6aLsVm-8vS5re-9fimAH-dKaPM-8VMeac-ubAdC-23Gomz-cAPxvA-dAJAD9-64WnzJ-8P6MB4-bBU7eR-fa81v9-bmKxKh-8VN4SF-4kFA5h-em1Ugo-ees8PZ-f3yHyo-7JLVbq-7KcYUo-dt1rSm-dw1Cjz

    Here’s another:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/34797344@N00/116633688/in/photolist-biM8E-87ks8w-6Fi9yB-8iuYKM-84S5tV-5PqKvX-4MrBmZ-crvQLS-8vV6Qb-7nAaCb-8vV7bm-7nAqVs-6aLtbm-6aLsJJ-6aLsfh-6aGi4g-6aGhuM-6aLsrj-6aGhKR-6aLsVm-8vS5re-9fimAH-dKaPM-8VMeac-ubAdC-23Gomz-cAPxvA-dAJAD9-64WnzJ-8P6MB4-bBU7eR-fa81v9-bmKxKh-8VN4SF-4kFA5h-em1Ugo-ees8PZ-f3yHyo-7JLVbq-7KcYUo-dt1rSm-dw1Cjz-dwWCM7-jtMhf-7J3UQm-haSMK1-btHMDN-btacQo-bsQrbb-bGnan6-7BJjhF

    Still another:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11642890@N00/2984213722/in/photolist-5xGSLJ-76Po9j-8P6MB4-bBU7eR-fa81v9-28Z2LP-28Z2Lt-bmKxKh-9r2XXP-56h8tf-8VN4SF-baDHdk-biZNH-cAPyPo-bQHUH2-baDFQv-bQHURx-bSP8K-bijTuR-4kFA5h-33asjJ-fcaT9-cruWBh-fhX9Zu-em1Ugo-5GMzZp-ees8PZ-f3yHyo-bBwisD-bBwihM-e2wxo-eWDFM-eT9zA-fgypH-7JzeQd-7JLVbq-j6C9s-7KcYUo-pq4HZ-puGPk-puGPj-puGPx-puGPo-puGPs-pq4J1-dt1rSm-dw1Cjz-dwWCM7-dUcUPZ-jtMhf-7J3UQm

    And another one!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/64415053@N00/6798394210/in/photolist-bmKxKh-9r2XXP-56h8tf-8VN4SF-baDHdk-biZNH-cAPyPo-bQHUH2-baDFQv-bQHURx-bSP8K-bijTuR-4kFA5h-33asjJ-fcaT9-cruWBh-fhX9Zu-em1Ugo-5GMzZp-ees8PZ-f3yHyo-bBwisD-bBwihM-e2wxo-eWDFM-eT9zA-fgypH-7JzeQd-7JLVbq-j6C9s-7KcYUo-pq4HZ-puGPk-puGPj-puGPx-puGPo-puGPs-pq4J1-dt1rSm-dw1Cjz-dwWCM7-dUcUPZ-jtMhf-7J3UQm-haSMK1-btHMDN-btacQo-bsQrbb-bGnan6-7BJjhF-8B7Gvk

    Weyley weyley, here’s another:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/34797344@N00/116676321/in/photolist-biZNH-cAPyPo-bQHUH2-baDFQv-bQHURx-bSP8K-bijTuR-4kFA5h-33asjJ-fcaT9-cruWBh-fhX9Zu-em1Ugo-5GMzZp-ees8PZ-f3yHyo-bBwihM-bBwisD-e2wxo-eWDFM-eT9zA-fgypH-7JzeQd-7JLVbq-j6C9s-7KcYUo-pq4HZ-puGPk-puGPj-puGPx-puGPo-puGPs-pq4J1-dt1rSm-dw1Cjz-dwWCM7-dUcUPZ-jtMhf-7J3UQm-haSMK1-btHMDN-btacQo-bsQrbb-bGnan6-7BJjhF-8B7Gvk-9Qbhps-deom1j-boikP1-bmq2f2-bnMwew

    And this has been going on forever. In some cases, I hear the writing is ONLY in Arabic, and this is in ERITREA! It is one thing for the government to try to do that to accommodate the crybaby population for political reasons, but why are merchants, businesspeople whose only motive is the profit motive doing it. It is like the Spanish language signs in American retail stores. Amazing.

    Down with Arabic imperialism

    saay

    * there is NO difference between Eritrea and Ethiopia as the Eritrean impressionist explained to the Ethiopian TV host. iza zuria ale, izihim zuria ale; iza buna yiTeTal: izihim buna ale:: (wild applause 🙂

    • Eyob Medhane

      Sal,

      You are making it look like I have a problem with Arabic inscription or the language itself. I don’t I just don’t want it to be super imposed on mine or on any Habesha language. (Amharic, Tigrigna, Tigre, Silte, Guragigna or Harari languages) My argument is that there seems to be a concerted effort to empower Arabic over Habesha languages. That is my position, and I am sticking to it. By the way, I happen to be in the town of Assossa, Benishangul in 2009. Almost all signs in big and small stores and hotels are inscribed in Amharic then Arabic. Why? Because they have to cater to their Sudanese customers. I understood that and it didn’t bother me a bit. Please don’t make me look that much fanatic. The day people in Benishangul start to relegate Amharic in favor of Arabic and employ several mischievous scheme to employ their plan, that is when the problem starts with me…..But, I doubt that will happen.. 😉

      • Beyan Negash

        selam Eyob:

        Awate Team, it appears, in their big brother role decided not to post what I had written in response to your post as it relates to the Eritrean artist, Tedros Atakilti, who found refuge in Ethiopia, away from the current hell hole that Eritrea has become for thousands and thousands young Eritreans.

        I am not going to argue with the AT for this is their medium and I only have a great debt of gratitude to what they have created here; instead of whining and complaining at what this has been a case of aberration for my viewpoints to be blocked. I just hope this one makes it so I can communicate with you in private.

        So, if you could e-mail me at bnegash@hotmail.com I will send it to you in private.

        Sincerely,
        Beyan

        • Awatestaff

          “[Moderator: dear Beyan, you should know better. Big or small brother, we didn’t decide to post or not post your comment–simply, we didn’t see it at all. It would have been nice if you asked before reaching a conclusion and accusing us publicly. But if you think it was inappropriate to the extent that you believe we banned it, as you claim, you shouldn’t have posted it in the first place. But if you think it is kosher, go ahead and re-post it. But please do not accuse us of something we didn’t do.]

          • Beyan Negash

            My bad AT. I sent it twice and assumed it might have been the case. Look, as this moderated medium when in the rare cases that a response doesn’t make it, the presumption tend to verge toward a case of censoring. I saw nothing wrong with my response to Eyob. It was a case in which it puts Amhara culture in positive light, and I erroneously surmised that that might have rubbed you the wrong way – that’s all. So, herein follows the piece then:

            ጠና ይስጥልን እዮብ ወንድም፥

            The young man (Tedros Atakilti) may end up doing what Eritrean leaders, Ethiopian leaders, and all oppositions from both sides – combined – have not been able to accomplish, which is selam, make that SELAM. Talk about not only talent but vision.

            On the first clip in which the artist choked over his words when he mentioned the world selam that Papillon brought to our attention is very telling; very telling in that this young man is sincere and passionate and the demand that the host was claiming from his audience might have to do beyond the talent Tedros clearly possesses. The message that he is conveying is resonating with the public and it is about time.

            The power of art and the power of one individual to change sentiments are all encapsulated in this one individual who was warmly welcomed and that speaks volumes to the Amhara culture and the hospitality ጉርሻዉኑም፥ኣስተናግደነቱም ይሁን ለኣማራ ባህል የሚወዳደረው በፍጽም የለም። ለዛ ነው ልጁ ልቡን ከፍቶለት that he is smiling ear-to-ear. He just got a whiff of personal freedom and liberty to do what he wishes in life – perform in front of an audience.

            Imagine this Eyob, this young man was taken aback how alike the two peoples are, which shows what the isolation between the the countries has done to the psyche of the population. He was so enamored to see Ethiopian women who were inseparable in their looks from Eritrean women – of course; they are not except for the subtle cultural differences which tends to tilt in favor of Amhara women – at least, if I am to speak from my personal experience.

            Indeed, I do hear from Eritrean women also who say that Amhara men are far more open minded, romantic, and straight out affable, gregarious, and jovial and more affable than the average Eritrean man, and I tend to concur with that assessment – no offense to my Eritrean people. Of course, I am basing my assessment on hearsay, for I can attest to my experience with Amara women vs. Eritrean women, but with Amhara men, for obvious reasons, I can only reiterate what I heard other Eritrean women say about Amhara men.

            I know I am going out on a limb to seemingly insinuate that my people do not even come close to compare to that of Amhara Ethiopians, but that is no lie so long we are willing to give credit where credit is due.

            However, Eyob, don’t rejoice so fast now, and before you reach to cloud-nine, let me bring you down to earth.

            In you note on the subject in question you stated that “[h]ow do you guys in Eritrea bring up such a talent. Well…you don’t have him (Tedros Atakilti] anymore. We are claiming him. ” Well, Eyob, not so fast, this young man is so talented if he hears your wanting to claim him he may subvert Michael Jackson’s “she is mine” duo song that he sang with Paul McCartney, to no “they [Eritreans that is] are mine.” Here is the song for the likes of Nitricc who may not be old enough to know the song:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHp0s2wKajw

            Remember, once Eritrean always Eritrean, is the stubborn mantra and characteristic we carry as a badge of honor. Our stubbornness has myriad facets, but this is just one of them.

            Beyan

          • Awatestaff

            [Moderator: Beyan and others, computer systems are not perfect. Sometimes the system thinks a post is spam and it is relegated to the spam folder. Your latest message was retrieved form that folder. Why did that happen? Our knowledge is as good as yours. But lately, inserting Tigrinya text within English has become a fad. Many posts we retrieved from the spam folder had that similarity. We thinking aloud; could there be a connection? IT experts needed to explain if that is the case.

            On your second point, suspecting that your positive thinking about Amhara culture might have rubbed us the wrong side, is what the Arabs say, “Ezr Aqbah mn’al zeb.” An explanation worse than the offense 🙂 C’mon Beyan! We though you hold us on a higher esteem! Thinking that way is offensive enough; liberal thinking is not a monopoly. Yet, we do not think any culture is superior to another. That is the stuff fascism is made of.]

          • Eyob Medhane

            Beyan,

            Ooooooooo………Do you understand what kind of trouble you got yourself into? Not with Sal (I think Sal is a closet Amhara 🙂 ) But with so many PFDJites and some other hateful “Author” that litters his bigoted views of Amhara once in a while in this website.

            Your views about Amhara men and women, though yours is a bit exaggerated (I think) seems very similar with what is written in Bealu Girma’s “Oromai”. One of the Eritrean characters in the book Fiameta was describing the Amhara men almost the same way you described it.

            I have one observation, which I have noticed lately about young Asmarinos. They seem to have a bit above average sophistication than any of the youth of the capitals of horn of africa.

            I agree with you that people like this guy are anchors to rid the toxic mentality that largely the ‘Ghedli’ era as created. (I know you don’t agree with my last sentence, but that is my belief. )

        • beyan negash

          Selam Eyob,

          EPFDjites are reeling and twirling to find a scheme that puts them back on the game, but the game changer keeps on spinning them like a cloth in a drier that spirals without any control but to wind in a vicious circle and each time it lands on the bottom is span back up and sideways with no way out until the heat subsides.

          Unlike in the case of the drier which is time-clocked, the heat on the EPFDJ has been relentlessly stubborn and it would not relent until they completely leave town.

          The aftermath of Lampedusa is way too big of a tide for PFDJ to contain. I just read a piece at Asmarino a daring challenge from Eritreans in Asmara and its vicinity planning mass, what can only be characterized as a requiem, for the loved ones who vanished in the high seas. The organizers seem to be determined in forging forward with their planned commemoration, which is part of that ongoing heat out of which there is no way out except for PFDJ to leave town.

          Beyan

    • dawit

      It looks you are suffering from Arabic Phobia. You are concerned about the Arabic writing on the advertisements and not the English. What is the difference? Business people advertise to attract as many customers they are able to reach, besides they are paying for the advertisement what is the problem?

      • Eyob Medhane

        dawit,

        Do you read well? If you do, try it again.

        “…By the way, I happen to be in the town of Assossa, Benishangul in 2009. Almost all signs in big and small stores and hotels are inscribed in Amharic then Arabic. Why? Because they have to cater to their Sudanese customers. I understood that and it didn’t bother me a bit…..”

        • dawit

          Sorry Eyob, I was not referring to your post, but to saay who posted the add from Eritrea, in Tigrigna, Arabic and English.

          Peace

    • Papillon

      It is rather curious to see that, on the second and third adverts, the adverts or cautions are written first in Arabic then in Tigrinya (on the second one). First in English then in Arabic then in Tigrinya (on the third one). The sequence is probably random and it probably doesn’t mean much.

      • rodab

        On the 3rd placard, the Tigrigna equivalent for “Avoid alcohol, it can lead to unwanted sex” is ” alkolawi mesten shigaran bmiwigad, bruh metsha’e hiwetna niTemit”. Where did the sex part go? lol.
        The first one is a bit messed up. If you read it from left to right, as you should, you get “foto nay copy nebri”.
        I love the last one, it sounds sweet grandma’s advise: “entesetiKa, aytizewr”.

        • Papillon
          • Papillon

            Of course the guy in the picture is “Listro.” Years ago, I heard that, the root of the name was a sort of a contracted or shortened version of “Least raw” for the mobile Listros who carry with them the small wooden box was pretty cheap “least of a type of a raw-material sort of thing.” Does anybody know if that is in fact the case?

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Papillon, “Least raw” is an unconventional guess. Shoeshinning was introduced by the Italians, Lustro is shiner, as in shoeshiner=Lustrascarpe–scarpe (shoes) as in the commonly used word, Ascarba. Before that we had only saani or Tlam. If you see old Italian movies, they rarely come without a Lustro somewhere in the story. They brought it to us.

          • Papillon

            Dear SGJ,

            With all honesty, it didn’t make much sense to me. You’re a polyglot. Thanks for the lesson አያይ.

          • haile

            “Did you know” interjection here Papillon and SGJ:)

            No clue as to where the word originated from, but it sure looks a prestigious profession 🙂

            According to the Wikipedia:), several high profile figures worked as shoeshiners at one point of their lives:

            Mahmoud Ahmed – Ethiopian singer

            James Brown – “The Godfather of Soul”. He used to shine shoes and sing and dance on Ninth Street in Augusta, Georgia; in 1993 the road was renamed “James Brown Boulevard” in his honour.

            Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – later President of Brazil

            Alejandro Toledo – later President of Peru

            Malcolm X – worked as a shoeshine boy at a Lindy Hop nightclub in New York City

            Rod Blagojevich – later Governor of Illinois

            Sammy Sosa Former Dominican baseball player predominately for the Chicago Cubs

            Cheers

    • Eyob Medhane

      Sal, oh oh oh….

      I am so glad you brought up the impressionist guy. Please. I beg. Watch his ‘we are the world’ impression. I mean, wow! How do you guys in Eritrea bring up such a talent. Well…you don’t have him anymore. We are claiming him. 🙂 On his radio show, Seifu Fantahun ( the host) said that he is getting a lot of request to have him back. Please watch this clip. You won’t regret it…

      http://www.diretube.com/tewodros-atakilte/amazingly-perform-we-are-the-world-on-seifu-show-video_cef350a72.html#.Unr2R7K9KSM

      • saay

        Hey Eyob:

        Man, you are 0 for 5 now…

        His Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan are spot on but the rest… In the immortal words of Lisa Simpson “meh!”

        It’s a “different strokes for different folks” thing. The best video to come out of Ethiopia in forever is this:

        http://youtu.be/hnMCbM2b_Jw

        This song* not the GDP announcements, tells me that Ethiopia may be poised to leave the third world and march to the second. Ayraq, ayrqm

        *this is the Saay Index (patent pending): a society’s embrace of heavy metal music is an indicator to its economic development. Some dude on FB told me who the director of the video is:) He, who is reading this, might want to share it with the rest of the class.

        Saay
        Minister of Animal Tests and Football Clashes

        PS: Nitricc, you are funny and cruel, but I am being redundant. I think funny people are cruel people 🙂

  • Thomas

    Hi Haile,

    I strongly believe in the power voting. Since we are talking about a declaration of an official language and if we are serious about this, we must be ready to hear from all citizens regardless of their religious affiliations/beliefs. Personally, I would like to see a language that helps to communicate with the entire world not just with the regional plays. In today’s world, language is used to measure the level of knowledge as it is the tool used to market oneself. You can be a person with the highest level of education if you cannot explain/express in a way others understand, it will be a big loss.

    The Future of Eritrean children must have the ability to access science books and be able to write/read and speak with the world by utilizing a universal language.
    Lots of time and energy was wasted when the ethiopians forced us to learn and use Amharic in offices and elsewhere. Imagine if the credit hours given for Amharic class added to more credit hours of the English Class. Who knows, I would not have struggled to write this comment:)

    Sorry, Haile as I was writing to you I had that anger and fixation of that imposed on me to learn Amharic:) As we have become the owners of our Eritreaness (taking those mafias and gangs so called government members out of the equation), I guess I need to have my Amharic language surgically removed from my brain:) Kidding again, because I understand the power of language. Who knows I might visit ethiopia for business purposes or to spend my vacation. Appearance wise, I look like them (
    Ethiopian) that is positive; and I will work taking care of my Eritrean accent. I will make myself look local, and what else? I think I can survive there:)

  • Semere Tesfai

    “I would like to hear someone make a good case against my views.” What is the rational for – “Arabization of Eritrea and the eradication of indigenous languages….rather than making all our Eritrean languages equally important in the eyes of the state (not first and second class languages).”

    Well Zaul, exactly like you, I’ve been waiting for a long time someone, someday, in this crowded cyber world to bring it up and explain the rational for the controversial Arabic language, to be an Eritrean national language. But so far no luck. Well, let me try then.

    The reason why Arabic language became the official co-language of Eritrea in 1952 was not because of religion, history, culture, ethnic or regional right. If anyone is reasoning along these lines, they don’t have a winning argument. Because the premise of their argument is wrong and they can’t start with a wrong premise and end-up with right conclusion. The whole Arabic thing has nothing to do with Islam but politics and the game of politics. Let me explain:

    I’m sure someone, who is more knowledgeable than me will elaborate on this; but until then let me try my best. In 1952, the Eritrean population was about 50% ethnic Tigrignas, about 35% ethnic Tigres and about 15% the other ethnics combined.

    Well, during that time, not only ethnic Tigrignas were excessively flirting with Mama Ethiopia, but also religion was front and center for them to look South. And their motto was shameful and brutal: “ጃንሆይ መጺኦም ብሰማይ፡ ወኢልኻ ኣስላማይ”.

    Now, in this climate, what choice do the Eritrean Muslims have but to unite and resist. Right? Right – now in order to unite and resist, someone has to lead. Well, who else could lead – but the Tigres. And, in order for the Tigres to lead the resistance, they have to find some rallying issue that means a lot to every Muslim, plus they have to secure assurance of power to feel safe. And they got both in 1952 – a guaranteed Muslim vice presidency and an Arabic language that serves as a canary for Muslim power erosion. Later, that contract was eroded and they started Eritrean insurgency. The rest is history.

    Now, you can connect a lot of dots from here – you know – like, why we don’t have a vice president, why the Kunamas, the Naras and the Afars don’t give a hoot about Arabic language and more.

    Therefore, the main defenders of the Arabic language in Eritrea are the Tigres. The Tigres defend the Arabic language vigorously not because they want to defend Islam; but because that is the only rallying ticket that would put them at the driver seat. Now, you’re plugged.

    • Semere Tesfay,

      You are a problem creator not a solution seeker. We have many problem creators, what we are lacking is solution finders who could formulate a compromising agendas between the contending social groups. In fact leaders who foresee compromising agendas are those who could save the nation we all love. But I will ask you, if you have few nuggets to contribute towards that rather to reject any idea of the opposite side. I don’t think you forget your intimidating words that calls for another possible dictation. If you don’t remember it just refer to your “bumper stickers”.

    • belay

      Mr Semere Tesyay,
      It has started to give sense now.I do symphetise with Tigres now.
      If we can not swim togather,we sink togather.
      That is sad,but I perfectly understand.They have to sacrifay a beautiful language like Tigre and its histroy for security and pride.If that was the case,I am not in a position to comment but symphtise.and wish you good luck and harmony.
      Thanks Mr Semere Tesfay.

  • Horizon
  • Mussie

    I don’t know why some people think Arabic is exclusively the language Muslims? the bible was written and practiced in Arabic way before Islam and Mohammed was borne. Arabic language till this day is the language of the bible in all Arab christens in the Middle eastern and beyond. for example in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and so on. yes, Arabic is not only the language of Muslims but Christians and other faith followers. Arabic does not exclusively belongs to Eritrean Muslims but Christians too, especial those who have sematic root in their language,for example like Tigre and tigrina more than Afar, Nara, and saho. for instance, I the Christian Eritrean speak more fluently Arabic than I say most my Compatriot Muslim Eritreans back home in Eritrea. Arabic is not an Islam but a language period.

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      May be other religion can be taught in the native Language while islam/kuran is taought exclusively by arabic in Our rigion from Kindergarten age. And then follows the arabic-dressing code, and continue with what an arab muslim girl must do or not etc. And this is sneaking arabic culture which makes the arabic world too happy for its political and economical advantage and for the misery of for those who buries their Language, culutre etc.

  • Barca

    Congratulations Mohammed,
    I hope the book will translated into Tigre language, the most important language that is spoken in Eritrea by more than a third of Eritrea and understood by half of its population. If the Afars, Tigrinyas, Somalis and Oromos can move their languages to a national level, our rich and proud Tigre can move even faster.

  • Semere Andom

    Hi Haile and all:
    Official status is important because it will mean that Eritreans will be served by their government, provincial or central by one of the official languages that is constitutionally mandated. If you do not have one, then either you will force people to lean one language or end up serving them in their own ethnic languages. PFDJ refuses to officially make it official, but for themselves there are two official languages, Tigrinya and Arabic, that is why they do not write reports in their own native languages or give seminars in their native tongue, while they enjoy this privilege, we do not. Remember some of these native languages are on the verge of extinction and they will be limiting to teach kids the sciences and math even in the elementary level, when the foundational material should concretely be cemented, you will have to invent terms on the fly for prime number and molecules etc. It will till the field in favor of some and you know that the Eritrean landscape is naturally tilled :-).People have paid heavy price for their vocal debate on this issue, so it is not whatever we call it. It is OFFICIAL or not. The disturbing thing is not that PFDJ is not doing it, but the fact that this is polarizing issue even among those people who oppose the regime (not you).
    I have a very low expectation from PFDJ about their care for the language or its speakers. While societies and nations strive to resuscitate their extinct languages, PFDJ in the contrary works hard to make the national languages extinct, their attempt to write all the native language in Latin is an enduring example of their anguished desire to render our languages and culture extinct, thereby creating their own language and culture that will supplant ours and we cannot even agree on one lowest common denominator that has been solved by some visionaries to have two official languages. PFDJ is severed well by their linguistic and culture eugenics on our expense.
    PFDJ’s Anthem was originally written only in Tigrinya and then in the tail end of 1988 it was translated into Arabic. So let us translate it to all 9 Eritrean languages and sing it in all 9 native tongues, ensuring the equality of all of them. We rock, no one language is left behind.
    Everything is a working of some sort, no human right because we do not have a government yet, we have a working/provisional government. If you buy a house in Eritrea now, they do not give you a “libretto”, they issue you working ownership paper.
    Everything is working of some sort, no human right because we do not have a government yet, we have a working/transitional government. If you buy a house in Eritrea now, they do not give you a “libretto”, they issue you working ownership paper.
    We should not buy into PFDJ’s “shenti b’ray” propaganda.
    here is a video DIA talking about language
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyT7SHChrAY

    • haile

      Selamat Semere Andom

      It is polarizing alright, and if should be truthful about it, the fact that people weigh in religion as the ONLY component of social fabric to be affected by it. In the end I believe that the matter would be settled through constitutional amendment following a parliamentary debate and voting on the motion. I don’t believe it is a referendum issue because the sheer number of factors to be studied and considered in relation to constitutional amendment in this regard is not feasible to be dealt with by a clear cut questions designed for a referendum.

      Again, I think that the ratification and implementations of a “constitution” (whichever we go ahead with) can go ahead immediately in the transition period of post-PFDJ without even including a definitive clause on the matter. Once normal parliamentary proceedings are up and running, a motion can be put forth for amendment.

      I agree with Thomas that the priority order of the day is the overthrow of the IA regime, but I am still confused on the “imposing” argument Thomas is making. Because such is essentially precluded by the very nature of democratic governance that guarantees basic freedoms and rights of the citizens of the state (Thomas please clarify who the “imposers” are in your hypothesis?).

      Regards

  • Thomas

    Well, Haile. Let’s liberate our nation from the universal killer regime and we will You can talk about economic ties with the Arab world, cultural and societal resemblances and more……….. You still are talking about imposing a foreign language to your own people. Yes, I know kids at home are learning Arabic language at schools. So did we learn English since grade 3. The fact is do you use to communicate with with friends and family at places outside class. Some Latinos who have lived in U.S. for decades barely speak English. We can go on and on with this. The simple fact is you cannot impose things such as languages on society. It isn’t that easy. As someone here has mentioned it, religion is private as such anyone can use any language in his/her private life and at mosques, churches and at any spiritual houses.

  • haile

    Selamat Awatistas

    The language of Arabic has an important cultural and socio-economic development significance in Eritrea. We stand to gain NOTHING by fear mongering. There is going to be significant economic and trade ties with the Arab world in future Eritrea as would also be the with the western world and the rest of our region and continent. Narrow minded, insecurity ridden and divisive route isn’t the way forward. Call it official, influential or widespread, Arabic language will have strong existence in Eritrea as has been the case for a long time.

    No one would be less of a christian or less of a pagan or less of a Buddhist because they are exposed to a significant linguistic accessibility by having to help the widespread use and development of the Arabic language in a country. Fear is the only thing to be afraid of.

    In any case, geography and other economic, trade and social necessities would be the powerful driving forces in this case than narrow hegemonic calculations of few paranoid sections of our people.

    Currently, Eritrean children learn Arabic at school and watch many arabic TV shows at home that such sense of besieged mentality is not common to them. Let’s chill 🙂

    • Araya

      Bunch of nonsense, language has nothing to do with economics. Economics are dictated by demand and supply. Just like hooking up with a pretty girl. You don’t need to know her language. As usual Haile, the “great” is flooding the forum with nothing. Luba, Luba Biliwat, ye balwan Mexhaf Atebetch. Dude, chill.

      • Papillon

        Araya,

        Do you know why the Eritrean economy is in shambles? Simply because, it is being run by ——(fill in the blank) people like you. Please quit embarrassing yourself. Everything in life is economics including a single flap of a Butterfly’s wing (read: Chaos Theory).

        • GM

          Papillon and their likes,

          Every thing in life is Economics??

          Adopting or buying alien language (ARABIC)renders us only MISERABLE IDIOTS.

      • haile

        lol@YPFDJ graduate studies:

        Course: Self-Reliance – Advanced (a molti-disciplinary content)

        Economics: “language has nothing to do with economics”

        Sociology: “Just like hooking up with a pretty girl. You don’t need to know her language.”

        Applied skills: use multiple foreign languages to brandish your crass, as in ” Luba, Luba Biliwat, ye balwan Mexhaf Atebetch. Dude, chill.”

        Course code: f$#*&%$$#it

        Course leader: Monkey/charlie

        Past graduates: Araya and friends

        Credits: this course is not recognized outside of YPFDJ hall & uniform hence counts 0 credits (NB. it is a compulsory course for those wanting to later become a PFDJ twat)

        🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Ermias

          Haile the great,

          You never fail to educate, amuse, entertain, and help me through the smoke screen. As for this course – not for me because accredation is vital in this era of globalization.

    • In a paper entitled “The Effect of language on economic behaviour”, M Keith Chen of Yale University argues that languages that enable speakers to clearly differentiate between the present, and the future are likely to ” save more, retire with more wealth, smoke less, practice safer sex, and are less obese

      According to the author, Arabic language has “strong future time reference” as is Tigrina language. Amharic, on the other hand, has “weak future time reference”, suggesting that their speakers are relatively less likely to save more, and retire wealthy.

      The bottom line is that there is some sort of correlation between language and economy 😉

      Now, why don’t you both , Araya, and Haile , chill out;-)

      Reference:

      http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/keith.chen/papers/LanguageWorkingPaper.pdf

  • hiyab

    I believe this issue is going to be the main issue post issayas in democratic Eritrea. It is positive that people are aware and making arguments about, so they will have a say and vote on it in democratic Eritrea. My belief on this issue of language comes from a free will of Eritreans to decide their future, be it national language or official language. No language should be imposed to any Eritrean with out a vote. Part of Eritrean people should not vote for the fate of the whole Eritrea and impose it to the whole nation…..be it English, Arabic, Tigrigna, or native languages. Christian alone could vote only if it is going to be used in church and the same thing with Muslims….they can vote alone if it is to be used in mosque. There is no half democracy and imposing to the other half. Let’s stand united for full democracy, free society.

  • Thomas

    I am very happy that we are not part of the Arab world. After seeing civil wars among the Sunnis and Shias, it is very disturbing to try to share Arabic language. After, it is by no means an Eritrean language. No Eritrean living inside Eritrea (who never travels or went to school) speaks Arabic language. As far as I am concerned, it is a foreign language. So, it would be up to the entire Eritrean people to participate in a referendum whether to nationalize or otherwise this language. I believe in the right of freedom of religion and speech. No one by the power of guns can impose the language Arabic upon us. We all nationals of Eritrea must have a say to nationalize Arabic or any foreign language.

    Now, Sal tried to justify that a referendum for nationalizing Arabic Language be held among the Eritrean Muslims. To prove his point he said the right of Islamic believers as it was the right of all Eritreans to choose whether for their nations independence or to be united with Ethiopia. I find this example somehow irrelevant or unconvincing because we cannot ask the Arab nationals to vote for us. That is to participate in whether we need an Arab language as our national language or we don’t. I think we need to understand what we are asking.
    Language has nothing to do with becoming an Eritrean. We Eritreans only have native languages. A second language which is popular at the international level can be used in academics and become an official language. This is merely for communicating with the outside world. Statistically speaking, English language worldwide spoken and is accepted. All most all scientific books are written in English language.
    The Somali, The Pakistani, The Djibouti, The Iranians and many other nationals who believe in Islam never chose Arabic language as their national language? The ethiopians almost have the same number of Islam believer as we have. They never think about importing Arabic language and to declare it as a national language. Talking to impose Arabic Language among all Eritrean citizens is insanity. Since we are talking about importing a foreign language, all Eritreans must vote for this. That is when the dictatorial regime is exterminated.

    • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

      Don’t just mention countries haphazardly from the map. Those countries never used Arabic as a language of documentation, communication or learning. Eritrean Muslim did. So, are you telling Eritreans to throw away their educational and cultural legacy and star anew? Study the cultural and civic developments of the countries you mentioned, you will not find any similarity with Eritreans Muslims. Pakistanis had always used Urdu/Hindi (after Sanskrit) in their lives. Turks used Arabic alphabets until the days Atta Turk. Persians used Farsi since time immemorial. Did Eritrean Muslims use “mother-tongue” to write document their transactions, marriage and death certificates and other requirements? Of course not. Guess what language they used and there is your answer. This is really boring, debating such deep issue as if it is a football match. At least be informed if you want to debate it… and respecting the right of others is at the core of this issue–and the foundation of Eritrea as a country.

  • belay

    Dear Awatians,
    One of the main purposes of the Eritrean strugle was to use your own language,to learn,write and official use .
    Because loosing your language is losing your identity,after some time,that is if every child went to school anf use foriegn language.
    The Nubians are regreting losing their language.
    The Somalies refused Arebic over their language and are still Proud Muslims.
    But still I love to learn Arebic but not as my national language.Sorry .

  • Eyob Medhane

    Gash Saleh,

    Because I talked about it so many times before, I would not harp on things all over again. However, the insistence of imposing Arabic not only in Eritrea but in entire Horn of Africa seems to be intensifying. The Arab cultural imperialist know very well that the way they will be able to impose their will on other people is through language. That is the reason they always are very keen on attaching And conflating Islam with Arabic and Arab culture. That is the reason that they are very contemptuous of countries like Iran, Turkey and Indonesia. These countries kept their identity and language, yet practiced Islam in it’s universal form without any of the Arab culture that Arabists want everyone to take Islam with. In Amharic we say “….Yaberun Tebasa Yaye besat aychawetim…”. Knowing full well how the Egyptian Copts lost their alphabet, language, country and being treated as second class citizens in their own country, now on the verge of losing their faith, we should keep a stern eye on the Arab cultural imperialists. That is why every time this type of conversation comes up, I never stop quoting Dr. Mohammed Kehir’s Article sometime ago on this very website, which he said, if he had a position of influence in Ethiopian Ministry of education, he would mandate all school from elementary upwards to teach Arabic. What he said on that article very much fits with the aspiration of Arab cultural imperialists and Arabists in the Horn of Africa.

    Ato Amanuel Hidrat,

    I understand for what ever reason you seem to want to say something that you think pleases Saleh Gadi or Saleh Yunis. However, I think they probably would have a better respect for you, if you make your pronouncements based on facts. Where is your polling data that makes you say confidently “..all Eritrean Muslims want Arabic…” What makes you sure that the Tigre, people, who actually have a language that is as old as Arabic, as sophisticated as Arabic, in their entirety prefer Arabic over their own. What in the world makes you think that the Afars, people who are EXTREMELY protective of their culture and identity want to abandon Afar language and communicate with Arabic. You think an Afar from Asab is different from Afar in Djibouti or Mile and Metehara? I dare you to tell an Afar man that his language is a ‘minority’ language and inferior to Arabic. I dare you do that and wait for his reaction standing very next to him. And also, please do not try justify your ‘me too, me too’ , by referencing the language arrangement in Ethiopia. No foreign language has a previlage over the local languages in Ethiopia. Not English. Not French and certainly not Arabic. People are free to develop their own languages . The official language Amharic I required in schools to be learned for the purpose of having a universal communication tool through out the nation. Should a Somali kid from JIgjiga want to move to Addis or any other part of the country for work or education, he will have a tool to communicate with other than Somali. That is what a multilingual society in a nation means. Not the one that has a foreign language imposed on and considers the one that is in locally “a minority languages” as you described them yourself. It is depressing that you, a Kebessa Eritrean describing a Tigre language that is the closest language to the confined only in church geez, as a ‘minority language’ in favor of Arabic. Search and find yourself, Sir.

    • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

      Lij Eyob,

      I had a feeling you will jump in 🙂

      In your case, one sentence rules your argument shallow. You read a sentence from an article by an individual and you inflate that to a wild claim, “… the insistence of imposing Arabic not only in Eritrea but in entire Horn of Africa seems to be intensifying.” How is it intensifying, you don’t tell us. It all in your mind Eyob.

      If I would use your type of arguments, I can quote dozens of stupid comments by Ethiopians and say, The anti-Eritrea vitriol by Ethiopian is intensifying. Do your homework dear.

      The Arab cultural imperialists, Western imperialists and our own chauvinists will always be there. Why you single out one imperialism alone is a mystery you can only solve.

      There is a chism between Sunni islam and Shia Islam (Iran/Saudi rivalry) There is a rivalry between modernity and conservatism (read Gulf Arabs and Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt and many others) There is a leadership rivalry between many Arab countries, among them Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. There is inter-Arab rivalry (read Iraq, Bahrain and others) Simplifying all that and discounting it to a project to Arabize Eyob and his town is self-aggrandizement, a frightening self inflation. Least of all, Eritreans do not have any interest in giving up their identities or changing the identity of those who are so stuck on primordial hate messages of our recent past. For many, cultural hegemony is rejected–be it Arab, Abyssinian or otherwise–they see no difference in all of that.

      What you forget is that you are not the custodian of Habesha identity; I claim it as my own. I am not an Arab and will never be. If you are afraid of the Saudi culture, you hate it without knowing anything about it, just by reading some shallow Western articles. I reject it because it stripes me of the type of Islam that I know, the one that was embraced by my ancestors when Meccans were chasing the prophet. I am a descendant of the first Habesha Muslims, my adherence to Islam predates that of the Meccans and I do not acknowledge any of their claimed superiority. I feel proud that words from my ancestral language “Geez” are part and parcel of the Holy Koraan, which is called Mushaf (a barrowed word from Geez, MetsHaf). That is me. But talking about the political (and rights) of Eritreans, is a different matter. Arabic is the educational and cultural heritage of Eritrean Muslims. They had it and used it since time immemorial, well before Islam, well before Christianity. Claiming that Eritrean Muslims are tools in the expansion of Saudi culture is an insult, we have our own colorful culture and we do not need to import any–we have enough diverse cultures. Please, do not insult us.

      • belay

        Dear Mr Saleh Gadi Johar,
        First of all,i thankyou and your Awate staff members.l learnt tond from your web site and I love it.
        I have one question,i always believe I am through and throgh Habesha,which I inherited it from my ancestors,but I am a christian (orthodox).
        Mr.Saleh,who is Habesha?Do you have to come from mecca to qualify or you to be a muslim as well.
        I appologise for my ignorance,please kindley ask you to clarify it for me please.
        Thankyou.

        • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

          Thanks Belay,
          You don’t have to be a Christian or a Muslim to be Habesha because Habesha existed before the two religions. There are many books about Habesha history, race and politics and I do not want to discuss Habesha history in depth here. Now, in the absence of records, illiteracy, how does one know his ancestry, say 300 years ago, with precision? There is no way except that if one is assimilated into Habesha, he claims the ancestry of Habesha. But many of today;s Habesha could have Persian, Indian, Arab, Somali, and many other blood in them. For example, we all know that slavery was abolished in our region in a thirties of the last century. Now show me a Habesha who would tell you he has slave ancestry! No one will and no one should worry about that either. But taboo, fear, and prejudice force us to act the way we do. A short answer for your question: race comes before religion… it is in the blood and cannot be changed whatever religion you embrace. Who are Habesha? Those who say they are Habesha, no one else. You can’t force that identity on anyone if one adopts another identity. There are Habesha Christians and Habesha Muslims.

          • belay

            Mr. Saleh Gadi Johar,
            Thank you, and I am happy with the answer you gave me.

          • Ermias

            SGJ, I learned a lot today by reading your comments on this thread. My preconceptions and misunderstandings have been shattered. Thank you very much indeed. Dew daa belelna!

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Ermias, don’t give me too much credit. It is you who deserves the praise… you looked into things with open mind, taht is all. If you had come all fired up, with stubbornness and promising yourself not to listen to any reason, we would have parted fruitless. That is not what many people do–they do not debate to understand, but to demolish any argument. I have too much trust in our people, the number of those who are willing to engage in a productive debate outweigh those who are stuck on a prejudice by a million times. Thank you dear for the nice wishes dear.

      • GM

        SG,

        “But talking about the political (and rights) of Eritreans, is a different matter. Arabic is the educational and cultural heritage of Eritrean Muslims”

        Dear SG, It is only you and few misguided Eritrean Jeberti elite that sympathize and worship Arab,Arabism,and BEDOUIN ISM.

        Stop preaching fake Arabism in Eritrea we don’t need it, it
        doesn’t belong to us.

        If you are Habesha respect, embrace and promote your native language not the alien ones.

        No body will respect you if you don’t respect yourself your Identity and language.

    • Selam Eyob,

      I have been respecting your argument whether I agree or disagree in this forum.Even if I don’t like it, I was reserved to let you satisfy your urge to debate with Sal. But to attribute my argument to satisfy Salih Gadi and Saleh Younis is simply pathetic and demeaning to say the least. If you have been following our writings you could have noticed stark differences in some issues. If you are expecting to be at difference in all issues…then all you argument in this forum is for the sake to oppose.

      But Eyob, you don’t know our people in the first place. I don’t mean the Eritrean-Ethiopian who live in Ethiopia, but the Eritreans who live in their native land.You can’t talk on behave of our people in this forum to argue what they should be or shouldn’t. I have been living and struggling with them almost all my life. I know exactly the demand of my people. As part of my political exercise, I respect the right of my people (the right of our diversity). I don’t have a dictating mind, rather I do have an accommodating mind.So I strive for accommodation in my political endeavor.

      I have been following your debate and it was strictly your personal view not the view of the Ethiopian people. I wouldn’t argue with the nature of government of Ethiopia what they should/shouldn’t be in this forum; because it belongs to the Ethiopian people to air their grievances regarding the action of the government or the system as whole. That is yours to argue with the rest of Ethiopians. So your examples in your comment doesn’t apply to ours for we have different reality and specificity.

      No question, the Eritreans are experiencing like what the Ethiopian people had experienced during the Derg regime.Surely, we will overcome and prevail no matter what it takes. The Eritrea will have a sytem of governance that respect the desire of its parts (its diversities) not the desire of individuals. We know what unite our diversity and what are the pillars of our unity.

      My advice to you is stay away from the Eritrean Issue. The only area you could share you view is something related to peace and good neighborliness, and on how these sisterly countries will live in a peaceful coexistence or how could we have a mutual economic development.

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        Amanuel,
        AytHazelu, Eyob, the son Ethiopia kidnapped from us, is nice in the heart, only he thinks he knows Eritrea more than me and you. Besides, he is on a mission to impose Ethiopian cultural imperialism on us, including the Tigre speakers 🙂 Please Amanuel, for my sake, don’t challenge him by asking how many Tigre or Arabic words he knows? And how many Tigre speaking Eritreans he knows, and their culture. Or what do, for example, the Beni-Amer (about a third of Eritrea who speak Tigre) think about their cultural and racial identities. Simply put, he thinks Eritrea is as narrow as the number of Eritreans he know–Eritrean culture cannot be discovered in a DC restaurant. Ahun Tefahu: ye arat million yemm’tawqachew ertrawi sm enda tsenezerbgn, you know four million Eritreans, Eyob. Right 🙂

        • Eyob Medhane

          Ato Amanuel,

          I did not mean to demean you by implying at times that you say things to please the Salehs. It just some of the things you seem that way. Nevertheless, if that makes you feel demeaned, sorry. I am a type, who says what I feel, and that’s how it appeared to me. I actually read some of your writings and I liked some of them, as you do not expect me to like all of them. As far as I am in this forum, because of the urge that I have to debate Sal and just to oppose, though that has nothing wrong with it, you are mistaken. There are plenty of times that I agreed with Sal and have been on his side of argument. But you’ll never ever see me to be on his ‘Amen corner’. That wouldn’t be healthy. About me not knowing about the Eritrean people, that reasoning usually is presented, as deterrence to shut of a conversation. I got used to it and developed a sort of thick skin for it. You are right. I don’t know the Eritrean people, who live in Eritrea. But I know the ‘Habesha’ people and our ‘Habesha’ culture through and through. When ever I feel that it is being trampled, threatened and about to be walked over, I rise in defense for it. Unless, you are telling me that Significant portion of Eritreans are not part of Habesha culture and identity, just because I am an Ethiopian, there is no way you’ll be able to deter me to speak for its defense. You said “…My advice to you is stay away from the Eritrean Issue. The only area you could share you view is something related to peace and good neighborliness, and on how these sisterly countries will live in a peaceful coexistence or how could we have a mutual economic development….” Wow. For a man, who aspires for democratic ideals, it is strange to advice people about which topic to discuses, what they should say about a certain topic and which kind of topic they should stay away from. Don’t you think that is a bit un democratic? I explained to you how Ethiopian language arrangement works, because, you yourself brought it up to justify you theory. That was the only reason. I no where did suggest that that should be the way in Eritrea. All in all, I don’t intend to go back and forth with you. I just want you to know that, despite not being an Eritrean, I intend to defend To and speak for Habesha culture language and identity, which I fully belong to and immensely proud of, but unfortunately is threatened from all sides in Eritrea. Gash Saleh is right. I am on a mission. Not to impose ‘Ethiopian cultural imperialism’, but to point out the danger and threats ‘habeshanet’ is facing. And believe me, I will NEVER stop that, until I no longer live. ( which I hope and pray, a long long time from now) Therefore, you will hear from me defending my proud identity and culture for long time to come without being restricted by border or as you suggest with out ‘staying away’ from it.

          Gash Saleh,

          Thank you. And yes. I have a thick dossier of all four million Eritreans I know. Whose name did you forget? Let me know, I will check and tell you with the correct pronunciation. 🙂

          • Selam Eyob,

            When I talk about democracy it is within the Eritrean proper or within the prescribed space “Eritrea” and inscribed people “Eritreans.” When I defined my scope of understanding, I am also hinting that democracy is relative depending on a given socioeconomic development of a society. I could be subscribed to the “ideal of democracy” within this practical understanding. This is in terms of practicing not in terms the ideological principles, as the principle so broad to discuss in this forum.

      • Tamrat Tamrat

        Dear Amanuell!

        I am surprised by your unexpected comment here. There is no other Source like Ethio-Eritrea to know about Eritrea NeXT to Eritreans in Eritrea. Dont forget the hundred-thousnads hiphenated eritreans all over the world who shred their lives With the same number of ethiopians. You know very well how at least the Word ‘Ethiopia’ is insperable in all aspects of eritrean life in many ways. You dont have to like any comment but being harsh because the commenter is not eritrean is not you from your past comments.

        I think you reconsider your last comment and at least take back ‘My advice to you is stay away from the Eritrean Issue’. That is not you.

  • Belay

    Dear Selam,
    Although I didn’t full grasp the poem, It seems to me that you are stating the origin of Arabic and Tigregna as if it is Geez. Before, I second guess you, please enlighten me how the liturgical language Geez is related to Arabic? More importantly how Arabic grew out of Geez.
    Respectfully,
    Belay

    • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

      Dear Belay,

      is this questions for me? becouse the name your wrote above is Selam and here in awate there is someone whose name Selam.

      • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

        dear Belay, don’t mind for the question above. here is the answer and here is what I think of languages. you will also find the intention of the poem here,
        You see brother, my poems are coming from my understanding. Language for me is for communication. And language is not owned by any single nation or person. Everybody is free to use any language he likes. And sure everyone will choose a language that is good to communicate. No single person will use the language that will not give him benefit.
        For me Ge’ez born languages are the most important once equal to Arabic. Of course Tigrigna Amharic and Arabic are the most important for me as person. But as I said it in my poem I could have learned erdu – Indian language. The more you know the more you communicate. Isn’t it?
        as we say the root of those three languages, Tigrinya and Amharic Tgre is Ge`ez. And Geez is one of old languages of the region then we know Ge’ez has sister also (Arabic). try to see some Amharic words they just remaind you that the language has an uncle somewhere around. I saw some books describing those languages Semitic Family. Ge’ez Arabic and Aramaic etc are relatives to each other.
        But Ge’ez got part of the religion mainly orthodox and didn’t continue with developments of economy, industry and others. Yet still the language is alive since the daughters are still growing. Most of the languages in Eritrea and Ethiopia are from Geez. Oromo people are choosing Latin alphabet but Geez is even more near to them. Unfortunately people for two reasons are in trouble in choosing their language.
        1.They are associating it with the past history. This is really the worst part of conflicts which should be seen carefully. Oromo people see Amharic was the enemy’s language because the rulers were from Amhara. That is what they understand but if they see deep they could have seen Haileslse is partially from Oroma. And language has nothing to do.
        2.People see as language is the most important part that shows the identity of an ethnic group. But if we notice there are a lot of ethnic groups with one language.
        In Eritrea people used to cover it with other conflicts but this is one of the main differences we had and we have. If someone starts talking about the subject then he will be neglected by the people. And this is what the PFDJ exploit. “haded libi” which is not true. This just let people continue to have unnecessary conflicts. When someone choose Arabic as national language he should not think it is because Tigrigna is Christians language, And the same with the Christian. There was a time when our people had strong clash (although short time) due to this language subject. The truth is that Arabic is not only the language of Muslims as we can see in Arabic countries. And Islam is not only for Arabs. Tigrigna is a language born from Ge’ez like Amharic and Teigre and other horn languages and it is not only for Christians as we can see it.
        Our country which own nine languages can use both Arabic and Tigrigna as Tigrigna is widely spoken language and Arabic is good as medium of other languages. This is good choice first for all ethnic groups and second to communicate with Arab countries around the Eritrea. Yet, ethnic groups should have their full freedom in developing their language.
        At last let the people chose what they want to do about it. for me I will keep informing that language is for communication and we should not force any single individual to talk a language that he don’t want.
        Now what is wrong in using English as our national language? People should ask questions and see what is good for them freely and create the system.
        I have also said that I will continue learning Arabic and chose it as one of my countries languages not because I love Arabs more than other but for reasons above.
        That is all what I was trying to say it in short way.

        thank you for reading my poem and pleas keep reading.

        • Belay

          Dear Selam,
          Thanks for the efforts to answer my question. You have, indeed, covered several issues in your response which are absolutely true. As long as we agree on most issues, that is great. I do not personally believe that Ge’ez is the origin of Arabic although there might be some similarities within the two languages. I should probably read more on this issue since it is a news to me that Ge’ez is the mother of Arabic. The issue of language in Eritrea is crucial in the years to come. Imposing foreign languages or ignoring local languages would have negative impact in Eritrea. For many people around the world, language is their identity marker. For others, language is a tool to share part of the Eritrean pie/Qicha. Both groups are right. Thanks again.

  • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

    It was back on 5th may in Jebana I post on the same subject (language) if you didn’t read it please read it now. I am sure you will enjoy it. Just part of the content is here bellow.

    …..ወሸለ ክኢለዮ!!!…..
    ኣነ ከይተሓሰብኩ ክመጽእ ናብ ዓለም:-
    ትግርኛን ዓረብኛን ብግእዝ ተዋሊዶም:-
    ነቕ ነይብል ታሪኻዊ ዝምድነኦም:-
    ኣነ ምስ ሞትኩ ‘ውን የለን ዝፈላልዮም::

    እንተ ኣነ:-
    ኣራኽቦ ድኣ ስኢነ ‘ምበር:-
    ኣይምጸላኹን ወላ እርዱ ክመሃር;-
    “ነሂ ነሂ “ እናበልኩ ክደርፍ ክዝመር:-
    ፊልም ህንዲ ክሰርሕ ከፍቅር ክፋቀር::

    sure you will love the poem.

  • Ghezae Hagos

    Selam Mohamed,

    Thank you for introducing us to Hajji Jabir and his book, “samrwait”. Burhan Ali also wrote about Eritrean artists and writers making their mark in the Arab world.

    For those of us who don’t speak Arabic but yearn to know how our other half are faring in the Arab world after being forced to flee their beloved homeland (some half a century ago), Hajji Jabir and others are some of the answers. This is especially true for those of us who love books and arts.

    As much as it is truism that politics in its cruellest form has been unkind to Eritreans, it comes off as momentary respite to learn, novelists like Hajji Jabir are, at least, wrestling with it, through ‘the revenge of mortal hand’ (Polish Nobel recipient Wisława Szymborska).

    The innate Eritrean nature of story telling, the cruel dramas our lives go through in its ephemeral span, the conflicting identities we shoulder, are enticing ingredients for yes for writers and artists and I am sure that is much more true when depicted and told through the language of rich literature, Arabic.

    Thanks Mohamed Edris again.

    Ghezae Hagos

    • saay

      Selamat Ghezae:

      As noted by others, one of the most astounding things about our 30-year revolution is that it didn’t result in a single memorable and must-read book.

      I am betting that the post independence turmoil will create our Najib Mahfouzs and Acebes.

      saay

      • Ghezae Hagos

        Selam SAAY,

        You brought up an interesting topic. The closest one that comes to mind (my mind here) may even have limited audience inside Eritrea. It is in Amharic” “Oromay” of Bealu Girma. “Hulu’n t’megnaleh; bemechersha hulu’n tataleh.”

        Though decidedly written from Ethiopian perspective, the book comes off as surprisingly appreciative of Eritrean cause and the futility of war in general and the need of finding peaceful resolution to ‘ye Eritrea Guday.’

        Some of the chapters on “Semanawit Kokeb” are richly detailed and touching. Michela Wrong has also written beautifully about Asmara.

        I guess our resident arts and culture to-go-to figures, Papillon and Beyan Negash can enlighten us more.

        On Bealu, here is his foundation run by his daughter Meskerem B. Girma.

        http://baalugirmafoundation.org/

        All the best,
        Ghezae Hagos

        • saay

          Selamat Ghezae:

          Thanks for the tip. I read “Ye Ertra Guday” when it came out and I was surprised by how shockingly easy it is to remember a Amharic (because it was our medium of instruction for so long I guess) and I thought it was well written if decidedly biased of course.

          I was excited this summer: I had 3, count them 3, Eritrean friends working on a book. Salehs is out; the other 2 are in various stages of completion.

          The Great Eritrean Novel is going to be written by our post-agelglot generation. I don’t know if it’s me but our agelglot generation is too wounded for story-telling: they tell the most mind boggling stories as if they are given you directions to the freeway. Very matter-of-fact, incapable of being shocked.

          saay

          • Ghezae Hagos

            Hi SAAY,

            Just last week, I get to sit with an Eritrean whose brother daringly and miraculously organized a prison-break from his captivity in Sinai. Just like escape from Alcatraz of the Morris brothers or sth akin to Shawshank redemption, the brother patiently and expertly managed to cut the chain, unlocked the chains of 9 others and made a daring escape across the desert, only unable to walk anymore. He was saved by woman and man, yes also Bedouins, clothed and fed him and brought him to Israeli border.

            The dramas the Eritrean generations have gone through and are going through would make any autobiography or memoire appear like fictionalized account for cinematic effect.

            Yet, like all our resources, our stories are also rarely told and may never be told. There is an innate cultural barrier/stigma associated with keeping ones agony to thyself; it is as if one would hid it from thyself. We are slowly unshackling ourselves from that but turtle speed.

            Apart from Aster Yohannes family, the reason I admire the Nazighi Kiflu family is precisely because of that. They refused to keep national issue private because it was never private. They want to tell the story of an Eritrean who died in UK but refused a small burial site in the country he was born in and fight for.

            I digressed- somehow.

            I wish Eritrea be called ‘the land of Ivan Ilyich.’ Boring nation, with little drama. Unlike the lives of individuals, (..’most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible..’ Leo Nikolyavich) the lives of nations should be most simple, most ordinary and therefore most awesome. Not making any international news for high sea mega tragedies and psychotic leaders.

            But, if we are not blessed with that, let us hope the written word will console us by ‘the art of writing/the power of preserving/ revenge of mortal’s hand..(Polish Nobel recipient Wisława Szymborska.)

            Ghezae

  • Belay

    This amazing Eritrean singer and artist represents the vision and hope of the future Eritreans and Ethiopians. The oldies Ethiopians and Eritreans who vigorously look for our differences should learn something from this amazing guy who was only few days in Addis and being accepted as if he was born and bred there. Let us encourage the new generation from Eritrea and Ethiopia to liberate themselves from narrow-mindedness and ethnic chauvinism as well as religious superiority and build a new relationships based on equality.

  • koken

    Dave and Zaul and the likes
    If we run a refendum among the Eritrea muslim on Arabic language, would oppose the outcome?

    • Zaul

      Selam Koken,

      I would accept the outcome of a referendum if all Eritreans participate and the choice is between:

      1. Arabic and Tigrinya.
      2. English + Native languages.

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        Zaul,
        Your argument is similar to some Ethiopians who wanted to participate in the referendum to decide on the fate of Eritrea in 1993. They cannot decide on behalf of Eritreans just like you cannot become paternalist over half your citizens and condescendingly make a choice on their behalf. That is called violation of RIGHTS.

        • Zaul

          I was expecting more of a logical argument from you Ato Saleh, not the regular you are bigots if you don’t accept Arabic. I have laid down my arguments further down if you want to know my reasons. Are you really comparing me to the nation that my family members lost their lives defending against, to save all Eritreans (Christian and Muslim).

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Zaul,
            I do not want to repeat what I wrote and said for years–I can’t help it if some are stuck in your prejudice and do not want to consider the arguments that has been presented for over five decades. First, you have to recognize it is about the right of citizens, it is not alms that Eritreans are asking from you. Then I can engage you. By the way, I have dozens of hate e-mails from you whenever I wrote about the subject; and you were not even discreet about your prejudice and fear-mongering and utter disrespect and bigotry. Your arguments have never been about rights, but about threatening me. I do not have anything to say to you at this moment.

      • Selam zaul,

        In addition to my previous comment in response to your argument down in the same thread, India the biggest democratic country (in terms of population) is also a good example for explanation to the subject of our debate – the should be official languages of Eritrea. India is the most diversified nation culturally and geographically. In India while each state has its own official language, Hindu and English are the official language at the central government level. What I am trying to show you here is languages are not barriers to development. Languages remove the barriers of communications directly and indirectly.As a result it opens the gate of human transactions and exchange of goods/services for economic development.Check the link below if it can help you.

        http://languages.iloveindia.com/

        You see Zaul, ours is the least complicate and easily solvable, provided if we have open mind to hear each other’s complain. The issue of language is not a problem in Eritrea. The Issue of equitable power and equal opportunities is the core problem in the psychic of Eritrean political mind. The issue of language will be addressed within the frame work of equal opportunities. Which means to give the opportunities for languages to serve(for official purpose)the public interest and their peaceful coexistence. Arabic has a deep cultural root in the life of our Muslin brothers.If that language is their choice they should have it. Besides do some effort “gele dehsesa” on your side to know the grievances and demand of your people. It is not what you want, it is what your society collectively want.

        • Belay

          Selam Amanuel,
          You brought great example of India which uses the three languages system (English, Hindu and the local language). There is nothing more complicated than this. Eritrea’s problem is very easy to solve if there is willingness on the part of all sides to listen to each other and deeply understand what languages mean to different people. The situation in our Ethiopia is much more complicated. Educating oneself in this area enables people like Zaul from being ‘linguaphobic’ . Languages enrich our views and help us understand others’ cultures and peoples. As I learned Tigregna (being Oromo) and religiously develop it for my own personal growth. I encourage Zaul NOT to be afraid of Arabic if used in Eritrea as a foreign language or a state language, if people like it.
          my two cents.

          • Zaul

            Belay,

            I don’t know if you understood what I’m trying to say, being linguaphobic is not the issue.

            i) First 3 years of schooling: Mother tongue.
            ii) From 4th grade onward all schooling in English.
            iii) 7th grade onward children can choose an additional language (Arabic, Amharic, Oromo or any other Eritrean/non-Eritrean language)

            In a decentralized system or cantons (Switzerland), it is possible to set up a local government language + English, e.g. if I as a Tigrinya-speaker go to Barentu and settle there, I have to learn Kunama or If I choose not to, be served in English when I interact with the local government.

            The issue is about protecting and preserving our heritage not denying someone his/her religious rights.

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      It is wrong to associate the religion with arabic language. Let People learn basic education in their own mother thangue. And let them learn different national and regional language which brings erirea social and economical advantage (amharic for example).

    • Zaul

      Ato Saleh,

      I sincerely appologize if I come off as threatening, I would not harm even a fly. I may need some anger management :), but your framing of the language issue is incomplete.

      Let me just leave you with this article:

      “…historical factors such as colonialism have had a huge global impact on languages, resulting in the marginalization of and a rapid decline in the use of indigenous and minority languages, which were often seen as backwards, a barrier to colonial hegemony, or as slowing national development….”

      http://allafrica.com/stories/201303131165.html

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        Apologies accepted. The bigotry part is not in denying you the right to object to something; unfortunately, most of those who hold your opinion (including you) lace your arguments with insults to your compatriots–does self-hating, arab-wanebe, inferiority complex, etc ring a bell? That is what I call bigotry and not having an opposing view. I am also against people who try to make a choice on behalf of other citizens, or acting as if they have the moral authority to allow and deny other citizens of their choice. That is all. But my attempts was to explain to people who hold views as yours that it is a foundation on which Eritrea was built, (for which your siblings sacrificed their lives, to respect the freedom of choice of Eritreans) not to patronize them. It is one of the pillars on which Eritrea stands. Shake it and you shake the entire country–something no sane Eritrean wants.

        • Zaul

          ” But my attempts was to explain to people who hold views as yours that it is a foundation on which Eritrea was built, (for which your siblings sacrificed their lives, to respect the freedom of choice of Eritreans) not to patronize them. It is one of the pillars on which Eritrea stands. Shake it and you shake the entire country–something no sane Eritrean wants.”

          Those are very shaky pillars, if we can not even discuss language matters without taboos.

  • MMSAEED

    I wonder why you TIGRiNIA people get sick whenever Arabic issue is raised. I, a non TIGRINIA BIHER, whenever occasion allows I speak TIGRINIA fondly. Guys, liberate yourselves from abhorrence before trying to liberate Eritrea from DIA.

    • Abe z minewale

      “Tigrinya people” . moderators needs mederator or needs to come back from GaHwa break

    • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

      MMSASEED

      It is not the “Tigrgna people”; it is the bigots,hypocrites and fear mongers–and they can be from any segment of Eritrea. There are many noble Eritreans who recognize the rights of others to make a choice. They are those who wish to continue to lord over their citizens from one office (a continuation of what our tyrant is doing) who should be blamed. The time for a centrally ruled people is long gone, thanks to them. Every Eritreans will run his affairs within a united Eritrea, with equal rights. And the choices the people will make is obvious–let the people get hold of reigns of power and they will decide.

  • Nathan Aman

    As usual it is a great forum to discuss issues that matter to us all Eritreans. I wish we have this kinds of forums and freedoms in Eritrea for all our people to discuss matters that concern them without fear and intimidation. I believe that the time for that is coming soon I have no doubt. Having said that, in regards to figuring out what Eritrean or other languages to consider for official language first we need to have a broad discussion about the issues on hand.To do that we need a free Eritrea and institutions that allow for the discussions to take place. Once we have the institutions and freedoms to discuss the language issues then we involve all Eritrean people and let them discuss the pros and cons of the issues. Then once it has been fully and transparently discussed without biased have the people vote on what should be the official and what should be the national languages of Eritrea.This I believe is the best way to go.Most of us who left Eritrea at a young age know that language is a very important part of our life and most us speak several languages besides our mother tongue from home. At the end of the day we should take advantages in learning any language be it from inside Eritrea or out side of it. At this time though as some alluded earlier in their comments is to rid Eritrea of the cancer that it has-namely PFDJ and the rest of the criminal enterprises that are ruling Eritrea.Finally Hope and Solution to the most suffering people of our beloved Eritrea- the most patient people the world has ever seen!

  • Gerima

    British brought Arabic to divide Eritreans in 1940s.

  • rodab

    So if Omar is the main character, if the story is told from the point view of Omar, and if the Author doesn’t provide opinion of Samrawit, how is it that the book was titled “Samrawit”, and not “Omar”?
    It is good initiatve to provide the book review, but it lacks tons of details – specailly considerting it is being reviewd by a second-hand language.
    Anyway it sounds an interesting book and I hope it is translated to either Tigringna or English.

  • Eyob Medhane

    Hey Guys,

    This language stuff has been beaten to death in awate. Before Gash Saleh, Sal and I start sniping at each other about it once again. I want everyone to relax and have a good laugh with this clip. This is an Eritrean guy, who claims to be able to sing in 24 languages. Very entertaining, funny and positive dude. Enjoy
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GUoR_-Ws7d4

    • Love it. He has a marked innate ability.

    • Horizon

      What an amazing guy. Such a great talent should not be lost. I hope he makes it to the West, where he could exploit his great talent to its best. Even if he remains in Ethiopia,I am sure, he will succeed in life.

    • Papillon

      Dear Eyob,

      The guy is amazing. He got emotional as he was saying that we are one and the same (Eritreans and Ethiopians), moreover, the reception was warm. Obviously the need to find commonality as opposed to mundane differences between the two people is more pronounced in those people who don’t do politics for a living. Hope stiffed-neck and chauvinists on both sides will take heart from this incredibly talented guy.

      እህትህ ከሌላ እናት

  • Semere Habtemariam

    Selam Mohamed,

    Thank you for introducing Samrawit and your review of it. Would you please tell us how we can purchase the book?

    hawka
    Semere

  • Ermias

    “Omar loves Samrawit Abraham W/Mariam, but though she loves him as well, she can’t marry him because her parents don’t allow it. Marriage will distract her from caring for her ill Lebanese mother. As a result, his love is lost. Omar loves Eritrea, but hardly finds it. His love for democracy is rejected and he is told his kind of love will destruct others from building and protecting the nation.” The author is attempting to make a general statement here. That’s demeaning and disrespectful. I have a sister who married a Muslim Eritrean decades ago. Their oldest son is 31 among five other children. They live in Saudi, great life. We love her, her husband and her family.

    I will endorse virtually anything thrown at DIA and PFDJ but I will not support narrow minded and unfair statements. Every single Eritrean is suffering to one degree or another. Making Arabic an official language should never be a priority for Eritreans while we are suffering untold attrocities not by virtue of our language or what we like to be our language but for our mere being. Let’s stay focused on deposing IA then we can pick kunama, bilen, Tigre, Nara etc. as our official language. They are all beautiful languages.

    • beyan negash

      Dear Ermias,

      When the urgency of the matter is existential one, what language one speaks is so irrelevant in the scheme of things, that it makes very little sense to argue what language should prevail in Eritrea. As Semere A. said it in so many ways that if things keep on continuing the way they have been in the last twenty two years we will have no Highlanders to speak of let alone Tigrinya language. Whether we like it or not if Kebassa goes there goes Eritrea. There cannot be Eritrea without Kebessa and vice versa. Here is the last paragraph from Semere A’s apt observation below that speaks to this notion:

      “For the last 20 years with PFDJ in the helm […] who [seem to] have no clue about Eritrea [and who] did not make a dent in the development of the native languages. Tigrigna has been vulgarized, literalized and lost it personality. I know a bit of Tigre too and the Tigre that I read written by the “Netabais” has also been literalized. Using Arabic is not the problem, it is the lack of institutions. Do not worry about the destruction of our native languages, their native speakers will soon be cleansed before their dialects if PFDJ and blind supporters still reign in Eritrea.”

      Sad to admit here, Kebessa Eritreans have been the most effected and the most impacted by the PFDJ rule, fighting it tooth and nail is not even an option. It must be done if Tigrinya language and if to those for whom the language is their mother tongue are to be preserved…the urgency you seem to sense it rather deeply, Ermias; before the language and its speakers are made to be extinct as a way of Neanderthals who became extinct, we must act now.

      Therefore, the fight is mine as Tiginya speaking Eritrean and likewise yours for the same reason; Ermias, you are absolutely right to say that we must stay focused on the subject of rooting out, uprooting the PFDJ cancer and we must focus on that like a laser beam until this menace is dismantled from our midst – this menace that has befallen the people of the Highland, must have left yesterday, for the survival of Eritrean Highlanders rests on the eradication of it.

      Beyan

      • Ermias

        Selamat Beyan,

        I agree with your analysis virtually all the time because of your astute observations and the historical links you make with experiences with others who fought for freedom, particulary the civil rights movement in the US. Here too, you leave me with nothing but concurrence all the way across. I think it is fair to say Tigrinya speaking highlanders are suffering more at the hands of PFDJ but could it be that because it is more visible there? Or that PFDJ feels more threat from that set of people? I don’t think they hate highlanders more but it is probably because highlanders might be more of an obstacle to their agenda and evil plans. Or could it be that PFDJ is playing “quri nabey delika…?” In any case, I think our problem is much more basic than what languages are being vulgarized or butchered or which section of the country is suffering more. They are on the verge of decimating our very existence and we need to reverse that first and then we can work out the official language details. Federalism sounds like a good plan for the future.

        • Nitricc

          Ermias good to know you got jokes. Are you for real lol

          • Ermias

            Nitricc, what part did you find funny? I suspect my high regards for Beyan. I like Beyan because he make very good arguments and he backs up his claims. If you were my friend, you would actually find me a hilarious guys, like Suzinino. You sound like Tafla sometimes – totally lost.

        • Nitricc

          No Ermias, why do you think I don’t like Beyan, he is funny. I do like Beyan, he is just another lost “asmarino”
          No, my point was when said ” the Tigrigna speakers suffered more” obviously you have no clue. I see it the otherway around. The Tigrigna speakers are the problem.
          I don’t expect you to get it but do some soul searching and get back to me

          • Ermias

            Nitricc, for the first time, you made a very astute observation. Yes indeed a few Tigrinya speakers are THE PROBLEM in our country. Isaias, the two Yemanes, Kisha, Wuchu, wedi memhir, mangus,sebhat efrem, Gerahtu. Everybody is suffering to one degree or another by these gangsters, awalu, skunnis, sekramat.

        • Beyan Negash

          Ermias & Nitrix,

          አነሲ እታ “ቑሪ ናበይ ናብቶም ክዱናት፥ እቶም እሩቕት ከ? አሶም ዳኣ ቱሕዛት ዘሰሓቀቶ መሲሉኒ ነይሩ። At any rate, the whole thing about Nitrix is that much as any Circus has a Clown, he is our clown in the Awate Circus, if you will. When I first came across our endeared Clown I didn’t realize that I was being initiated into the rite of passage the Virtual Awate way, and tried to take him seriously and sincerely, but I now know better than to engage in any meaningful way with him. I just chuckle, smile, and sometimes even guffaw…he has found his niche in this virtual market of ideas.

          Ermias, consider him as our gadfly in his absurd ways making an otherwise serious issue seemingly absurd and light. In that mode of thought, I thought of the following (following suit) from what you have done earlier in another thread with Nitrix in a question and answer session. Here is one that is related to the subject at hand, a very serious issue and how the enlightened Nitrix would take it to its absurd heights. Here goes it.

          Beyan: So, Nitrix, what do you think Eritrea’s official language should be?

          Nitrix: Duh, it is not Nitrix, it is Nitricc. Anyway, what kind of a silly question is that? Of course, it should be ESL. Dummy, it is not English as Second Language either. The acronym I am thinking of is Eritrean Sign Language – ESL – that is what Eritrea’s official language I would vouch for. Oh, by the way, our ESL will be so sophisticated that it would replace ASL – American Sign Language, that is. You will see.

          You in the opposition have no program other than to just oppose, whine and complain. ESL is one you can use as your rallying cry. You get my drift. So, stop asking such dumb questions. You’ve been reading the dead white people for so long that you can’t think straight. I am just here trying to help awake you from the stupor and the journey of the stupid you in the opposition are trying to ride Eritrea and Eritreans towards. So, at least borrow my brilliant idea and I wouldn’t even ask for any credit – Just take it and go.

          Let me give you very relevant example while I am at it. Get this. Look at the responses to the clip of this Weyane Eyob under the Amhara guise has posted. Watch the clip first so you understand where I am coming from. Horizon wants this talented young man to come to the West. Didn’t I tell you the X-Box, the Wei, the Nook, the Kindle are what you guys advertise out in the open that is luring Eritreans to leave the country. It is not Essayas or anything else, it is the gadget stupid.

          I will give you another one, Papillon just got all too emotional about noticing how emotional the young man got when he talked about how one people we are. The Weyane conspiracy is in full gear. That is precisely this Weyane under the guise of Amharay guy wanted for someone to take the bait and our Papillon clearly took the bait.

          I can go on and on and analyze each and every writer in this opposition site and none of you have any alternative plan – just bitch and moan – that’s what you are good at. Peace! I am outta here. I have urgent matters to tend after – like breaking that Jebena on Haile’s head -:)

  • Zaul

    Using Arabic is perfectly fine in this case, because the audience is Arabs and Eritreans in the mid-east. But I will never understand the Arabic as official language debate, because no proponent has managed to give an acceptable explanation, without being called a bigot.

    Maybe the best solution for all would be English as the sole official language. But it’s clear that we need to learn Arabic, Amharic, English, French and chinese…if we want to trade with our neighbors and the world.

    • Zaul,

      If half population demands for that, are you going to deny them whether it is their language or not? Language is only for communication purpose. Why is it a big deal?

      • Dave

        Amanuel,
        Is there any evidence that confirms half of the population demands Arabic language? Even if half of the population , as you claim,demands it- is it something to voted for or agains?For example, if half of the population voted that the Kunama people should not speak thier mother tounge , is it fair to outlaw Kunama language. There are some concepts that can not voted for or agains; majority rule should not trump reason and logic. I like to think that I am open-mind ,and believe in compromise and concession , but the argument that Arabic should be official language ,doesn’t hold water .

      • Zaul

        Selam Amanuel,

        Do you really think it’s out of small-mindedness? I actuall think it’s a beautiful language to listen to and it’s shame I’ve forgotten my childhood Arabic from Giref, Khartoum (I can still read it though  ). We have to see further ahead several hundred years and look at the consequences. We will have a sharp division among the citizens along religious lines. Muslims will go to Arabic speaking schools and Christians to Tigrinya speaking schools. Where do we meet? We will have two nations within Eritrea (one pulling towards the Arab world and the other towards Ethiopia) and furhtermore a language is much more than a tool for communication, it carries within it history, culture, our inter-relationship and our collective wisdom.
        Ab kindi amharu kmslu kelewu wey areb kmslu kelewu nbl abotatna kmslu kelewu nbel.

        Just look at Northern Africa, Sudan, Chad, Mauritania and the Middle East (Only Mehri and Secotra are left in Yemen), the introduction of Arabic as an official language has arabized the people (although most North Africans are genetically not Arab, but more related to the people of the Horn) and practically wiped out the indigenous languages.

        You could say that it’s not the fault of Arabic that these languages did not survive, but if we know that our languages are weak, why take the risk? What makes us different from our northern neighbors? Why not be original and spend the states money (our common coffer) to develop and strengthen our own? Even Tigrinya, which is riddled with Arabic, Italian, Amharic and English words is not going to be able to survive because of it’s limited usefulness outside the borders of Kebessa, the demise is a foregone conclusion. So what we will be left with is Arabic as the sole official language.
        The sad thing is that we take what we have for granted and we will not value it until it’s totally lost. The next generation will not forgive us.

        • Dear Dave & Zaul,

          Dave – All believers of Islam want Arabic language (be it Belen, kunama,Mineamir, Saho, Jeberti, Semharin, denkl, Baria,Harandewa) as one of the two official languages (namely tigrigna and Arabic). It was one of the common understanding of our unity by our fathers and forefathers during the 50s (specifically during federation). The two languages are symbols of their unity at that time…..hence that historical exercise is helpful for our unity even in our time. Remember there is no symbol of unity other than these two cultural language that holds our social fabric.

          Second because tigrigna and Arabics are official languages does mean the other minority languages (Bilen, Kunama, Saho…etc) will be suppressed or extinct. Since our minority ethnics are demanding for Arabic we can’t deny them and it is their duty to use and develop their languages if we gave the opportunity to do that. We the tigrigna speaking people can not dictate them what language to speak or not. I don’t want to Irritate you but look Ethiopia, they have one official languages but they give full freedom for the other Ethnics to develop and use their languages.

          Zaul – To have multiple official language doesn’t begin in Eritrea. Switzerland and Singapore are two examples with multiple official languages. Switzerland has three official languages (German, French, and Italian). Singapore has four official languages (Chinese, English, Tamil, and Malay). So multiple official Language doesn’t divide them, instead it strengthened them to march for economic development. So lessons must learn.

          The Example countries you mentioned in your comment are not divided of having multiple official languages. They are divided by the nature of their governments. When there is no equitable political power and equal economic opportunities within their society there is always conflict and blood shading. And that is what we are watching in those countries. So lessons must learn.

          Please understand language doesn’t bring “conflict” rather unequitable power sharing does. In fact what we have learned is in fact alien language sometime unite diversities. For instance Singapore use foreign language “English” as one of their official language – which serve them in the global economy. In my view Since Arabic language is one of the widely spoken in the world, it will help us in commerce trade with in Arabic speaking around us. Simply what I could tell you is avoid the unknown fear from your mind. Arabic is one of our cultural fabric and a symbol of our unity. To play with it – is to play with our unity as simple.

          Regards,
          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Selam Amanuel,

            Really! Do ” All believers of Islam want Arabic language (be it Belen, kunama,Mineamir, Saho, Jeberti, Semharin, denkl, Baria,Harandewa) as one of the two official languages (namely tigrigna and Arabic).”

            You also stated “Remember there is no symbol of unity other than these two cultural language that holds our social fabric.”

            I don’t think you have a complete information to fall for such fallacy in thinking. There must be alternative explanation other than asserting your above arguments to be true of all members.

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            [Moderator: this is the last reminder for you to use Dawit1 since we have another dawit (small cap) who has been posting before you. Please add 1 after you name. We have changed your nick on our own because you didn’t heed our suggestion. But we will not do it another time.]

          • dawit

            This ny observation on languages in the world in general. English has evolved as the international language, because Britain was the world power for three Centuries and now US is the Super Power and English has been enforced as the international language. Even the European languages, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese have given up. Even China with over a billion population are struggling to learn English. The young generation wherever I visited are trying to learn English. The Arabs themselves are trying to learn English. They recruit tens of thousands English teachers from US, Britain and other English speaking countries. Why would we Eritreans need to learn Arabic when the native speakers are abandoning it? For Eritreans it make sense to adopt English as official language, and every family teach his or her child their language and tradition at home. I have seen several Eritreans in the diaspora teach their language to their children, Tigrigna, Bilen, Tigre etc. That will be give the child his or her culture and language at home and learn the international language in schools, which he can access to the science, technology and business language of the world. We will never cope up with translating all the books written in English in any of our local or native languages. In this age, computers speak English. Even though we are able to use the Giez alphabets to write to use the internet it is cumbersome. Besides using English will give every child equal opportunity from any national origin in Eritrea. If Eritrea adopt English as its official language it will not take much tine to adopt it. Our forefathers learned Italian language in just four years and were working in Italian firms, we learned Amharic and worked in Ethiopia. I can understand if people had resistance to learn those languages, because they were forced by colonial masters. But this tine we can adopt a language in our free will that gives our children the greatest advantage to compete in the global world. I am in favor of English as a national or official language for Eritrea a neutral language that can not be claimed by any group.

          • Zaul

            Keme’alka Amanuel,

            Thank you for your reply. I was just wondering about this segment.

            ” The Example countries you mentioned in your comment are not divided of having multiple official languages. They are divided by the nature of their governments. When there is no equitable political power and equal economic opportunities within their society there is always conflict and blood shading. And that is what we are watching in those countries. So lessons must learn.”

            I didn’t mention anything about division because of language in those countries, namely Northern Africa, and the Middle East. I’m talking about Arabization and the eradication of indigenous languages. You mentioned Switzerland and Singapore as examples of countries with multiple official languages, those examples don’t actually support your claim of making Arabic and Tigrinya the sole official languages, but rather making all our Eritrean languages equally important in the eyes of the state (not first and second class languages).

            If the advantage of Arabic is trade and progress then English is much more useful. For becoming a house maid in Saudi Arabia on the other hand… If we have anything of value to trade, believe me language will not be a barrier, just the quality and the price of the goods.

            In Sweden, an immigrant child has the right to learn his mother tongue within the school system. Because it’s proven that if you master your own language, you will have an easier time learning a second, a third and even a fourth language.

            So why cant’t every Eritrean child learn
            1.His/Her mother tongue
            2.English
            3.Amharic or Arabic.

            i) First 3 years of schooling: Mother tongue.
            ii) From 4th grade onward all schooling in English.
            iii) 7th grade onward children can choose an additional language (Arabic, Amharic or any other Eritrean language)

            In a decentralized system or cantons (Switzerland), it is possible to set up a local government language + English, e.g. if I as a Tigrinya-speaker go to Barentu and settle there, I have to learn Kunama or If I choose not to, be served in English when I interact with the local government.

            The issue is about protecting and preserving our heritage not denying someone his/her religious rights. I would like to hear someone make a good case against my views.

          • Selam Zaul,

            I don’t mind to add more language if it is the demand of the Eritrean people. But Arabic and Tigrigna are part of our cultural fabric and they are the pillars of our unity. We can’t mess with our unity and peaceful coexistence of our diversities. It is an objective reality we have to comply with it. I have lived and struggled with them over 40 years I know what I am talking. At certain stage of my aged I was advocating what you are advocating. I do understand it is from knowledge-deficiency of your cultural fabrics as it was to me at the time of my early politics. I also want to indicate to you, it is not easy to understand “cultural politics.” Society fights to retain their cultural values. Our Muslim brothers know Arabic as part of their culture. And indeed it is. Just ask one question to them “kemey alokum” they will not answer you by their ethnic language or tigrigna language. They will reply to you “alham dilah.” That tells all something about their cultural tie my argument.

            One last advice, try to know our diversity not in name only, but also their cultural tie with Arabic language. Have friends from our Muslim brother and that socialization will teach you a lot. Good luck to discover the cultural pillars of our society.

      • Tamrat Tamrat

        Zaul!

        Most superb solution how you give importance to a mother thangue . Using the example of other nations who had the opportunity to reason naturaly and developed their system so that their system reaches all their Citizen. In Our part of the wrold is always about using unity, religion etc for dominating others specially the minority ones. Your solution is ideal.

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      If the presidant himself makes Speech in arabic, makes important intervies in arabic, News papers and News made in arabic, Passport issued in arabic, etc etc what is the prolem of declaring it is an official Language. The presidant made the importance of a Language Crystal Clear. Ask him in amharic then he will reply in any Language you prefer except amharic. What ever an arabic Language lacks as an official Language then blem by the dictatorial system. What i mean is compared to many other aspects arabic Language is doing relatively good. As to there is no Eritrea without Kebessa is a very delicate matter. My worry in this volatile period is not your righteousness but the possiblity that the Whole Kebessa would be left to its Southern ancesterial family.

    • Zaul

      Selam Amanuel,

      It is enough to say that you disagree with me and point to where I’m wrong, rather than telling me about “knowledge-deficiency of my cultural fabrics” and which friends I should have. I think Turks and other Muslims say alhamdulillah, and they are no less devout, just because they don’t have Arabic as an official language in their country of origin.

  • Zahra

    May I remind those who have difficulty in understanding a bi-lingual nation. Look at Switzerland, it has three official languages and of course it is a federal state. So also, Eritrea will have to be a federal state in order to join the East African countries. If you don’t match the East African countries governmental structure (all are federal with exception of Eritrea) you will keep going on into cover ups, imposition of your will on others through dictatorial system. Believe me, right now about 90% of Eritreans speak Arabic. Imagine, if this is the fact and Saudi Arabia knows this, why is it siding with Isayas who is against Arabic Language. The reason is clear. The Saudis do not like the East of African Club due to its promoting FEDERALISM. And, in Eritrea it is for sure, no federalism not equal and fair treatment of all of its people. You know about what is missing in Eritrea: Equal and fair treatment of all, inclusive women. The first step to address the problem is federalism. You want be a bi-lingual you are welcomed. Under the East African club, you want be multi-lingual, you’re most welcome because you are a potential diplomat representing the club.

  • Dave

    It is futile to blame the Eritrean government as a sole culprit in the demise of Arabic language.If we let nature take its course, Arabic will always be redundant as compared to Tigrinay because Arabic can not be reconciled with reason and logic in the Eritrean reality.If two Eritreans ,one from Saho and the other from Tigere, meet in the streets of -let’s say London- the default language is either English or Tigrinya. The Eritrean Muslim elite tells us that there is a strong correlation between Islam and Arabic language. This argument doesn’t hold in the Eritrean context. Let me give you an example:If you venture in paltalk rooms ,you will find a room dedicated to Eritrean Muslims which goes by the name: understanding Islam for Eritreans . In this room Tigres ,Naras,Blens,Kunamas,Tigrinyas, and Sahos discuss about Islamic faith and current issues on Islam, and the medium of communication: TIGRINYA. I repeat : they discuss religious issues in Tigrinya, not Arabic . All of the attendees in the room live in diaspora where the Eritrean regime can not dictate terms, and yet they choose Tigrinya as thier medium of communication rather than Arabic language.The reason: many of them do not understand Arabic ,letalone speak it.

    The next logical question:Why do they want then Arabic language as an official language parallel to Tigrinya.Because they believe the Eritrean regime represents the Tigrinyas’ ,and promotes thier language and culture in the expense of the Moslim Eritreans.They believe Arabic language can unite them in the face of Tigrinya ” hegomeny”.

    Let me bring my argument home with the following rhetorical question: Suppose let’s , for sake of argument,remove the Tigrinya ethnic group and assume Eritreas’ ethnic groups are Tigre, Saho,Hidarib , Blen, Nara, Kunama and rashaida. Do you think this set of ethnic groups will demand to adopt Arabic language as thier official language! Not at all.These set of hypothetical Eritrean ethnic groups will definetly fight tooth-and-nail to speak thier respective mother tounge. You need prove: Look at other countries Where their overwhelming population is islam (Somalia, Indonesia, Pakistan,Turkey,etc..) but do not endorse Arabic as official language.

    Even if we assume for sake of argument that Arabic is highly correlated to Islam as the Elites want to tell us, the language should be indorsed in mosque sermons among adherents of the faith ; not in the affairs of the state. Religion should have no place on state affairs!

    • Wediere

      Dave,

      Over time Eritreans are becoming multilingual, sometime I imagine a time in the future you will have pockets in Asmara where people congregate and you will hear, English, Swedish, Deutch…..etc….groups/cafés.

      As for Tigrigna and Arabic over the last two decades the percentage of Eritreans speaking them as second/third languages has increased….what is the effect on the debate of official languages that seems not to end…who is imposing a language on others anyway?.. The good news the issue will be easier to handle by a future government where the people are comfortable in using what is deemed “official” then.

      I used to frequent Paltalk around 2003, now many rooms have mushroomed probably I would find myself in the maze of rooms….take it from me an Eritrean Arabic speaker would not go there to learn Islam, however, with the little literature in Tigrigna that there is about Islam, many Tigrigna speakers find Paltalk a good medium to convey/learn about Islam. It is that simple.

      Eritrean Muslim in the Diaspora when they meet communicate in Arabic, Tigrigna or the local language…….in the order. This cover age group around 20-45, the order may alternate if you consider age group above and below that range.

      Having said that, we can all shout out loud our opinions all day to convince each other…..for me this is a settled matter….everyone can decide for himself not for others as the shove it in your mouth approach gets us nowhere except produce a problem after another and we will live in a perpetual self inflicted quagmires.

      Regards
      AOsman

  • Beyan Negash

    Dear Awate Team,

    What a befitting theme to make a segue with, as you move seamlessly from the unfortunate tragedy of Lampedusa vis-à-vis Saleh Gadi’s transitional piece, into the world of literature through a book review. That is just fantastic way to shift the paradigm.

    However, I am going to brace myself in hoping against hope that this book review does not get immersed into that contentious issue of language as opposed to the sheer joy of works of literature. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there goes a classic example of how literature will be demeaned by people who can only see through the prism of politics and who are so literate in their interpretation that they are incapable of seeing beyond the proverbial forest for the tree. They are only able to see the tree (the details) of the forest but not the bigger picture (the forest) itself.

    Oh, poor literature might you suffer this oppugnancy in the hands of those who need you the most. Doubly oppugnant is those who toil to produce works of literature to only be insulted by the readers who do not appreciate the fruits and the love of your labor.

    The devolution, sad to say, has begun in earnest. By the time another article is posted and this topic is exhausted, the central theme of the book would have been long forgotten and people will be talking about the opposition this and the supporters that – that’s Eritrean style of dialogue for you.

    Beyan

  • habte

    I have always insisted indigenous Eritreans should be addressed in their native languages- if the message is to have an impact. By the way which ethnicity in Ertra is to understand a classic novel or literature that is written by someone who masters Arabic far better than his mother tongue. I am sorry folks, it just irritates me that some people want us to believe Arabic is an eritrean language.
    The fact is it is not. The same applies to people who profusely write in English when the majority of eritreansI even struggle to read and write their own mother tongues. It is a failed cause, and that is why in has not made a dent.

    That is by no means to say that these languages should not be taught and learned. quite to the contrary. But, they cannot and should not replace our native dialects in which our culture and history is engrained.

    • Semere Andom

      Dear habte and Abdu:
      There is a segment of the Eritrean indigenous Eritreans, who consider Arabic their sacred language and therefore want to learn it and make it one of Eritrea’s official languages. But this does not mean they will abandon their native dialects as you prefer to call it, they want to develop it, preserve it, but when it comes to academia the sciences, politics they want to use Arabic. Any one, especially an Eritrean, who believes in self-determination and to that end has voted in the referendum to self-determine should not have an issue with this. Often the PFDJ will rhetorically ask the Eritreans who want Arabic as official language, “Arabic is not your mother-tongue because your mom did not utter Arabic words when she first held you on her hands after the labor and people are stopped in their tracks by this moronic challenge. But you know what when a Moslem mother first holds her new born child, the words she most likely uttered are Arabic, “alhamdu-Allah”. An official language status based by what the mother first utters after labor is the only parameter that the PFDJ has in its quiver to challenge this issue. And in this they fail too.
      Before PFDJ existed Eritreans enshrined that Arabic and Tigrinya are the two official languages, why do you think they did that. I am sure you may have not be taught this in the PFDJ School, but read your history, understand it so you will not repeat history. Eritrea’s yearning for freedom was not master-minded by a college drop-out in 1970s, who was never responsible for anything in hi live. Eritrea’s founding fathers predate the soon to be history PFDJ
      If these stuff is too heavy for you, you should embrace Arabic as it will make almost 50% of the population of Eritrea happier, a recipe for cohesiveness and unity, if for nothing else. Like all things, EPLF/PFDJ tried to solve a problem that does not exist, a problem of their imagination.
      For the last 20 years with PFDJ in the helm and people like you, who have no clue about Eritrea did not make a dent in the development of the native languages. Tigrigna has been vulgarized, literalized and lost it personality. I know a bit of Tigre too and the Tigre that I read written by the “Netabais” has also been literalized. Using Arabic is not the problem, it is the lack of institutions. Do not worry about the destruction of our native languages, their native speakers will soon be cleansed before their dialects if PFDJ and blind supporters still reign in Eritrea

      • Beyan Negash

        Dear Semere A.,

        Precise and concise, yet furiously biting to the core. I need not say anything more other than to state the obvious – well said and well framed, brother. As far as I am concerned no more argument anyone can advance would change anything – I will simply refer them to your lucidly articulated piece.

        Beyan

  • Abdu

    Arabic is by no means an indigene language for East Africa,especially any of Eritrean tribes! Ironically,it has an official status equivalent to Tigrinya with little regard for languages such as Tigree or Afar.Is this an extension of the longing to be an Arab? Does every Muslim qualify to be considered an Arab if he/she adopts Arabic in place of his/her mother tongue?