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Seyoum Haregot’s New Book: A Critique

The Bureaucratic Empire
Serving Emperor Haile Selassie
Red Sea Press

For over a century, successive regimes in the Horn of Africa, have served their respective populace the Tantalus cup of freedom and prosperity. It has become a vicious cycle; a never-ending season of conflicts which has rendered many much worse off than they were a half century ago. Seyoum Haregot’s family is a case in point.

 Revolutions, coup d’état and large-scale interstate and civil wars have proven to be the ill winds that blew nobody good. Even the so-called successful wars and revolutions could declare nothing but cadmean victory. Something has gone terribly wrong; and it is incumbent upon all of us who hail from the Horn of Africa to seek understanding and make sense of what seems utterly senseless. We need to know our past because, in the words of Alexis De Tocqueville, the author of the famous book, Democracy in America, “When the past does not illuminate the future, the human mind wonders in the dark.”

Seyoum Haregot’s book is a great addition to the mushrooming literature of Ethiopian, Eritrean and the Horn of African history. It is the result of a manuscript the author wrote and a diary he kept while in detention at the Menelik II Palace, in Addis Ababa, from April 26, 1974 until September 11, 1982. The first-hand account of the events which have shaped modern Eritrea and Ethiopia, in particular and the Horn of Africa in general, is bound to make the book a vade mecum to the 20th century history of the region. The book is impressively rich in details; in fact, it is the author’s tour de force. Sometimes, it reads like a legal brief and could be unappealing to the uninitiated and less enthusiastic reader. The key is not allow the writing style prevent you from partaking in the bonfire of first-hand account of modern history that has the greatest impact in the lives of many. It is undoubtedly a gem of information.

From the onset, the author underscores his sole interest in writing the book is “to report objectively my [his] experiences in the government,” and it is “neither a stricture of nor a eulogy for the Government of Haile Selassie I.” It is only fair that I also reciprocate the gesture and mention, in advance that my knowledge of Ethiopian history does not allow me to judge whether he has succeeded in his stated mission or not, but, I can safely say that, in the subject where I am much more informed—Eritrean history—he has left out a lot to be desired. His omission can speak volumes to many people.

Seyoum: The Prodigal Son who never returned.

Many Eritreans of Seyoum’s generation have to navigate the unchartered territories of multiple national identities. A significant part of them have learned to straddle between Eritrean and Ethiopian identities while firmly rooting themselves in the former. A majority, however, have categorically rejected the Ethiopian identity and these are the heroes who fought the liberation struggle. A few, however, enthusiastically embraced an Ethiopian and an Amhara identity and marrying an Amhara with a “blue blood” was presumably the down-payment they had to make in order to gain an access to the corridors and climb the echelons of power. Seyoum was the personification of the last category. There were few who married for love; and most of the women were not from the royal family or nobility.

 It is hard not to be conscious of the fact that the late Seyoum had spent the best years of his life “serving Emperor Haile Selassie” and his last years serving a vulgar version of Haile Selassie—Isaias Afeworki. It is uncanny how the two rulers have much in common; the latter only being boorish, crude and a Philistine beyond redemption. Inadvertently or not, the author does not say much about Isaias Afeworki, although, it is not hard to tell his disappointment with the state of affairs under the dictator’s rule. In a telling sentence, this is what he had to say upon his visit to Eritrea:

“I went back to Eritrea, in a quest of the ‘Holy Grail’. I even invested some of my savings to help in that search, but alas the Holy Grail kept on vanishing beyond the horizon! I hope it will not again be necessary to use guns in the continued search for the Grail.” (pg. 109)

Typical of the evident contradictions in his life where on one hand, he portrays himself as an Eritrean nationalist who had written his position on Eritrea “in the hearts and minds of many [Eritreans] whom I [he] helped,” and, on the other, one who had proudly served the Ethiopian cause by lobbying foreign governments to stop supporting the Eritrean Liberation Fronts. Nowhere does Seyoum show remorse for being on the wrong side of Eritrean history. In fact, he neither apologizes for standing against his own fellow-Eritreans during the struggle nor for his new Ethiopian/Amara identity which was imposed at the expense of our own; but seems to take particular delight in parading the list of the two or three close female relatives with the name “Ethiopia” in the preface of the book. Let me put this in perspective: when Seyoum first met Emperor Haile Selassie someone had to do the translation for him since he, like the overwhelming majority of Eritreans, didn’t know an iota of Amharic.

“I went to Belgrade and told President Tito that despite Ethiopia’s support of the Arabs at the United Nations, these countries provide material and financial support to liberation fronts in Ethiopia. I conveyed the Ethiopian Government’s request to intercede on our behalf and put pressure on the Arab countries to stop supporting liberation fronts.” (pg. 179)

 In the Eritrea of Isaias Afeworki that has gone rogue, it is, of course, the resumes of turn-coats, people of questionable backgrounds and those who have successfully made virtue of selfishness and feathering their nests that matter the most. (In a language the late Seyoum would have appreciated, let me say: Exhibit A: Yoftahe Dimetros and Dr. Amare Tekle. I rest my case.)

True to the adage of “wedi dumu kem qedemu” or is it “zeyHafr dumu Hailemariam shmu” [Incidentally the latter saying is attributed to the grandfather of Yoftahe Dimetros who allegedly violated his monastic oath by fathering the notorious Dimetros from a nun.], the author rationalizes Isaias’s refusal to implement the ratified 1997 constitution on the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia. “Under these circumstances, President Isaias felt it would be difficult to implement the Constitution.” He conveniently forgets the border war was started almost a year after the ratification of the constitution. In September 2001, the author was one of the six former members of the Constitutional Commission who wrote an open letter to Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie accusing their “errant colleague” of “impropriety”, making “self-serving claims”, “molestation of the truth” and “egregious pretensions.”

The open letter was replete with outright falsehood, exaggerations, half-truths without any proper context, and, most of all, malice. The fact is Dr. Bereket wrote the original draft in English and Zemehret Yohanness was responsible for translating it into Tigrinya. The final version had a couple of new clauses written in Tigrinya; and it is these additions that Seyoum had the undeserved honor of translating them into English; and this, in a convoluted higdefite world, denies Dr. Bereket the honor of being the principal author of the Constitution. Seyoum, however, seems to modify his earlier position in the open letter, and, in this book has tried to reflect the truth as often told by Dr. Bereket. Hallelujah! And in the words of the Seyoum Haregot, “sometimes there is sanity even among devils.”

“Dr. Bereket left Eritrea after the Constitution was ratified, but before its publication in the official Gazette. I finalized the English version, and its publication in the official Gazette followed.” (Pg. 110)

This is a far cry from what the ignoble six had said in September 2001. The ignoble six were: Dr. Amare Tekle, W/ro Amna Hassen Naib, Ato Musa Hassen Naib, Dr. Seyoum Haregot, w/ro Zahra Omar Jabir and the Joseph Goebbels of the Tigrinya speaking Dergue, ato Zemehret Yohannes. (Source:

“A propos, you have declared that the original Draft of the Constitution was in English. We are aware only of the Tigrinya text. It was in fact for this reason that we requested one of our colleagues to translate it into English. If you had an English text why was it necessary to have the Tigrinya text translated?”

Of all people, Seyoum should have been more sensitive to politically motivated character assassinations and accusations. In his blind loyalty to the defunct regime and naiveté which, even, in his later years, has obviously not outgrown, he had refused an opportunity to escape to Djibouti because he was concerned his move would be misconstrued as admission of “wrong doing”; but, more importantly, he did not want to separate from his family. (I can certainly respect him for the latter.) Instead, he chose to remain and face the music. Consequently, he was unjustly forced to spend eight and half years of his life in prison on false and trumped up charges that were initially approved by the very emperor—who happens to be his wife’s grandfather and one whom he served with devotion and loyalty.

The emperor had reluctantly accepted the resignation of Aklilu’s cabinet the day before their arrest, but on this infamous day of betrayal, it was presented as “desertion”; and, hence, an offense which accordingly elicited the indignation and wrath of the emperor and his coterie of nobles who had their own hidden agenda. With a twinge of remorse, Seyoum recalls, “At Goffa Sefer, we [they] were prisoners of the Emperor and Endalkachew Mekonnen, prisoners of the very regime we [they] had long served.” (Pg. 277) In a face to face meeting with the emperor which turned out to be his last day of freedom, Aklilu Habtewold, (based on the book, it is very hard not to like this guy. He was suave, debonair and a consummate diplomat.) in a prophetic utterance, vented out to the Emperor:

“If our imprisonment, even our death, can save both Your Imperial Majesty and Ethiopia, we are ready to sacrifice ourselves, but let me assure you it will not stop there. All of you who are here will be joining us.” (Pg. 275)

Sadly, many of Seyoum’s fellow cabinet ministers and other high-ranking government officials and prominent church leaders including His Holiness Abune Theophilos, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahdo Orthodox Church were later brutally executed by the savage, Menghistu Hailemariam. (It is a shame we, Ethiopians and Eritreans, let this brute die of natural death without being duly prosecuted for all the crimes he committed against humanity.) After so much personal loss and the horrific experience he went through, one would have expected Seyoum to be a man who would tirelessly crusade for justice and freedom and champion the cause of political prisoners. But, not surprisingly, he reverted to his earlier selfish state of only looking out for himself and his interests; even if that meant being on the wrong side of justice and history. Seyoum had shamelessly sold his humanity to the devil. He could not even sympathize with Eritreans who had become victims of similar circumstances as him. There was no compassion or sympathy, for instance when he mentioned Salih Kekia, a former Eritrean minister who is now languishing in PFDJ’s dungeons and, even worse, presumed dead by many. Kekia was one of the young Eritrean students who had returned to Asmera in protest and who were later persuaded by the likes of Haregot Abbai, Seyoum’s father and Tesfayohnnes Berhe to return to Baherdar, Ethiopia, and resume their studies.

“Among the group, I distinctly remember Salih Kekia, who became Minister of Communications and Transport in the Government of Eritrea, and who is currently under detention with other former ministers, known as the “Group of 15” or “G 15.” (pg. 108)


Not worthy enough to stoop down and untie the strap of their sandals.

Seyoum characterized, perhaps nonchalantly, the principled and honorable stand of Dr. Assefaw Tekeste, a veteran tegadalay who brilliantly served the EPLF as the chief medical doctor as “disillusioned with EPLF policies.” For the record, Dr. Assefaw accuses the current leadership in Eritrea of betraying the principles which made the EPLF great; and bitterly laments how the organizational culture that unleashed unprecedented creativity and innovation during the liberation struggle was quickly and unwisely abandoned to serve the political ambitions of one man. Dr. Assefaw is one of the few credible and qualified Eritreans to accuse the regime of highjacking EPLF’s values because it was the underground hospitals and medical facilities which were the crown jewel of Eritrean pride.

The many innuendos and explicit accusations the author makes against Dr. Bereket also seem to emanate from a man who has not outgrown his childhood and school rivalry at the Evangelical School in Asmera where Dr. Bereket was a stellar student; a record which became a prelude to an even more impressive career. It is amazing how far he has gone to hit a man below the belt who was one of his best men at his wedding. To portray him as an ungrateful, subservient and dangerously ambitious man, he had unleashed all the arsenals of falsehood and defamation. “Dr. Bereket Habteselassie was the prima donna of the Enquiry Commission. He clearly relished his new role in the Dergue.” (Pg. 284) Even worse, he uses and quotes the notorious butcher of Addis Ababa, Meghistu Hailemariam, as a credible source of authority in tarnishing the reputation of Dr. Bereket. I hope Seyoum does not repeat a similar mistake of quoting Satan when he “gives an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

Dr. Bereket’s anti-establishment’s views were known to many Eritreans and Ethiopians who knew him; he was part of the new intelligentsia who were openly and secretly advocating revolutionary change. Seyoum, on the other hand is known among many Eritreans for his Amara-philia who tied the knot with a member of the Royal Family—against the advice of some Eritrean friends—to perpetuate the status quo and expedite his meteoric rise to power. The young World Bank lawyer Bereket who had been imbued with anti-establishment, revolutionary, democratic, socialist and liberal views had tacitly consented to his like-minded friends to not start the revolution without him. When the long-awaited revolution took place and his best friend, General Aman Andom, a man of courage and definitely worthy of his military title, was at the top of the leadership, it is only expected for somebody of the caliber of Dr. Bereket to lend a hand and be part of the revolution. This is the Bereket I personally know; a man who is now in his sunset years, but with a fire still in his belly who would talk till the wee hours of the night about the great ideas which have inspired many revolutions throughout the world. And, yes, he has inherited the oratory skills that his late father, Qeshi Habte Selassie, was known for throughout Karneshim and my own neck of the wood, DeqeTeshim, and beyond.

It is true that Dr. Bereket had asked the Prime Minister Aklilu and Getahun Tessema for their assistance to join the World Bank in Washington DC., but not while he was in Harar. Dr. Bereket was relieved from Harar two years prior to the request, thanks to the efforts of Bitweded Zewde Gebrehiwet. Dr. Bereket’s main motivation for requesting the assistance was to provide his sick daughter the treatment she desperately needed. Aklilu could not even make an exception on humanitarian grounds and had to slam the door in Dr. Bereket’s face. It was the intervention of Abebe Kebede that made it possible for Dr. Bereket to join the World Bank. There was no cause for Dr. Bereket to write “a letter to Tsehafe Aklilu,” let alone, to “thanking him profusely.”

It is also true and Dr. Bereket’s first memoir, “The Crown and the Pen” has beautifully depicted how some ELF fighters played a role in his escape from Ethiopia to Eritrea. Immediately, upon his arrival in Eritrea, however, he participated in the peoples’ mediation efforts that spontaneously erupted when the conflict between the two warring groups—ELF and EPLF— reached an alarming height. This is the civil war that took the lives of many heroes such as Israel Mesghina, the son of the prominent Asmera lawyer, the late aboy Mesghina Gebrezghi.

Dr. Bereket never joined any organization before the mediation efforts and it is wrong for Seyoum Haregot to say, “There he joined ELF, only later to switch to EPLF.” Seyoum was in prison during this time and had no first-hand information about these events. But, what can you expect from a man who had used Menghistu Hailemariam as a credible source to defame his own compatriot and an old friend. Anything will do when one is not guided by the truth and a strong sense of justice and fairness. Dr. Bereket has gone on record of choosing the EPLF over the ELF for its organizational skills and for the greater likelihood that it can accomplish its stated goals; and time has proven him right. He never joined the ELF and “Jebha Aba’y” has never claimed the good doctor as one of its own.

 The Eritrean people in their collective wisdom have an effective litmus test of knowing who has done his share of the public good and it is a simple question: What have you done for us? Drs. Bereket and Dr. Assefaw have proudly served their country and people and the cause of freedom, justice and kbri ade abo; and they are still standing tall. Seyoum is not worthy enough to stoop down and untie the strap of the sandals of these towering Eritreans who had given a life-time of service to the Eritrean cause. Zgebere wey negerelu wey gebrelu and I hope I’ve done a bit of negerelu in this article, at least, about these two great Eritreans whom I have the honor of knowing. I’m proud and appreciative of their records; but, more importantly, I’m even prouder to call them comrades in the ongoing struggle for justice and freedom. By the same token, if I were an Ethiopian, I would have said the same thing about Seyoum Haregot. The Ethiopians owe the late Seyoum this much deserved and well-earned accolade.

Haregot Abbai: Asmera’s Favorite Son.

Seyoum’s father, Haregot Abbai, was Asmera’s favorite son. As mayor, businessman, community and church leader and philanthropist, his name is still remembered with awe and reverence by most people who knew him. Asmera’s love for its beloved son was conspicuously displayed on the day, aboy Haregot was arrested—July 13, 1974.

“On the day he was arrested, the tabot (Ark of Covenant) of the Asmara St. Mary Church (with all its priests) were out and all businesses were closed as protest, and citizens of Asmara came out to protest.” (Pg. 279)

Aboy Haregot had the same love towards Asmera and its residents. In a uniquely Eritrean way, he expressed his love for his city and ancestral village by wishing everything good he encountered for Asmera. In a moving passage, shortly after the execution of his father in Addis Ababa, Seyoum penned down a sentence that captures the love of Asmera most Eritreans are infected with. (Both father and son were detained at the same prison. Hard not to feel their pain.)

“After they took my father, there was a heavy rain in Addis Ababa, and I thought that if my father were here he would have asked, ‘Could there be the same kind of rain in Asmera too?” (Pg. 301) [i]

The native son of Arbate-Asmera was as successful and influential in his private as he was in his public life. His “home was imbued with the sense of hard work, achievement, including academic excellence, and that nothing is permanent. Devotion to religion, beauty and gentleness gave tonality to our [their] lives.” (Pg.XXII) When Seyoum was young, aboy Haregot used to advise him, “if you want peace of mind, you must always try to find solutions to what is bothering your mind, and don’t let your emotions dictate your actions.” It is an advice all Eritreans in general and the youth in particular need to heed.

Seyoum briefly writes about the history of his hometown, Arbate Asmera and he is, so far, the only one I know and recall who has given an approximate date of when the place was named “Asmera.” “One day, in the thirteenth century, eight hundred years ago, their wives conspired to force their husbands to unite the endas [Gheza Asmaa, Gheza Sirinsir, Gheza Shilele and Gheza Guretom] and establish a ‘United Arabaate Asmera’ in the vicinity of what is today St. Mary Church.” (Pg. XXI) He does not tell how he arrives on this date, but it does not contradict with the information available in the Tewahdo church records—reservoir of a rich heritage. Beginning in the thirteenth century and onwards, Asmera was emerging as the second most important trade center in the highlands and the home of a great church that frequently attracted such luminaries as Abba Eswostatewos and Abba Indrias. Saint Eswostatewos died in exile in Armenia on September 15th, 1352.

It rejoices my heart to learn that Aboy Haregot was finally put to rest in his hometown of Asmera. After a decade and half, his body was exhumed. In a passage reminiscent of the Biblical Israelites carrying Jacob’s remains out of Egypt to Canaan, the Haregot boys (‘Atsmom yKhber) brought their father home and paid a precious tribute to our tradition of honoring the dead and the coveted honor of being buried in one’s hometown. (This is the honor the cruel regime in Asmara is denying veteran Tegadelti—bonafide heroes—who have given a life-time service to their country and people.)

“My late brother, Ato Fessahaie, himself a detainee of the Dergue, joined the search and identified my father’s remains by his shoes and other items. My father’s remains were brought to Asmara and buried at St Mary’s Church in the family burial place. St Mary is the Church of our ancestors, and he was one of its administrators.” (Pg. 302)

I hope to see one day an institution of City Management and Urban Planning at the University of Asmera, named in honor of Haregot Abbai, mayor extraordinaire. (Meqaberka yrHab)

The over-all theme of the book:

 The main theme of the book is to explore how “The bureaucratic empire was inaugurated with the creation of ministries staffed with trained, salaried civil servants at the national and local levels. The bureaucratic empire was the major success of his [Haile Selassie’] regime while the attempt to modernize the Kibre Neguest was the primary failure.” (Pg. 113) Authority under the Kibre Neguest was “maintained by tradition, religion and naked power.” The author argues Haile Selassie successfully arranged the bureaucracy by “skillfully combining centralization and modernization.” He installed the bureaucratic empire with the help of “the educated elite and the middle class”. This change came about at the expense of the traditional nobility. Ironically, it was the former in collaboration with the army that “brought down the emperor and ended the Kibre Neguest.”

Aside from the rich details and first-hand accounts that tantalizingly adorn the book, it is the story of a nation, perhaps the greatest in Africa that has miserably failed to live up to peoples’ expectations. The author dissects the anatomy of social forces that contributed to the downfall of the monarchy and the rise of the military junta. But beneath the plethora of information, a clear pattern emerges which sheds light on the problems which afflicted Ethiopia and by extension, the Horn of Africa. Strangely, the author’s own life mirrors that of the government of Ethiopia. It is hard not to notice that both of them lacked an authentic voice and were, for the most part, guided by self-serving political expediency. There was no fundamental sense of who and what they are and a vision of where they need to go and this has haunted them both and is responsible for their tragic downfall and irrelevancy. What a travesty for a Harvard educated lawyer to spend his life serving an emperor (Haileselassie) who was and a petty tyrant (Isaias) who is above the law.

Ethiopia under Haile Selassie was swinging all over the international political spectrum like a crazy pendulum. There was no marked difference in the way Haile Selassie conducted his foreign and domestic policies. He was more interested in appearing a statesman and powerful than actually being one; and a lot of energy was spent in his showmanship. A focus on short-term political benefits by catering to multiple and often competing interests and responding to emergencies which ruled out any chance the country could have to charter a long-term path of development specifically tailored for it. Unlike the Japanese who early on figured out what they want and where they need to take their country, the Ethiopian leaders (feudal lords) were totally clueless. The Japanese formulated a long-term plan of modernizing their country by identifying the industries which would assure them lasting success; and the students who were sent for studies abroad had to strictly follow the criteria laid out by the government. Japan is the only country besides Ethiopia which has the proud distinction of winning a war against a Western/European power. Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 and the first Italo-Ethiopian war of 1885-1866.

“These efforts [educational] were supplemented by sending students to foreign countries to pursue higher education. However, education was pursued without any rational basis, students left to choose the subject they wished to study without considering its functional link to the socio-economic policies of the Government. There was no harmonized Program of study relevant to the needs of the country.” (Pg. 223)

Accidental Lessons Eritreans must take from this book:

For Eritreans, there is a cautionary tale of how Ethiopia had dealt with its border problems with Somalia and the Sudan. In short, “adhering to principles” and “doing the right thing” meant nothing to Ethiopia; the only game it was interested in was winning, through either chicanery that masqueraded as diplomacy or brute force. Ethiopia invoked the sanctity of treaties in its conflict with Somalia while rejecting Somali’s position as a dangerous legal precedent. It then shamelessly invoked the same Somali’s position in its conflict with the Sudan; and Seyoum was tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the Sudan will never have the contested territories whether it wins ownership of it through arbitration or other legal and political means. Does this sound familiar? It should; and we need to take notes.

Ethiopia had effectively used Ethiopian Afars to change the political situation in Djibouti. In order to defeat the idea of a Greater Somalia, it made so many strange bedfellows: Kenya, France and others. In contravention of the OAU (Organization of African Unity) charter, Ethiopia was ready and willing to let the French’s rule continue in Djibouti in its desire to defeat the idea of a Greater Somalia which it perceived as its greatest regional threat. Addis Ababa is the home of the OAU and Haile Selassie is its most illustrious Founding Father.[ii]

And who can forget the Ethiopian financed shiftas who terrorized many good Eritreans in the 1940s and early 1950s. In the second half of the 1950s, Ethiopia which “had been grooming its own candidate, Bitweded Asfaha Woldemichael, an Eritrean who was the Deputy Representative of the Emperor in Eritrea,” put the final nail in the coffin of the UN approved Federation while the Unionists “were determined to make Federation a viable arrangement under which Eritrea could operate, if not independently, at least autonomously, as anticipated under the Federal Act.” One must appreciate the likes of Tedla Bairu who in remorse took the ultimate action and redeemed himself by joining the Eritrean revolution. To err is human, but to acknowledge mistakes and take corrective action accordingly is a sign of greatness. Eritreans were not totally wrong when they sung: ati men kedinki zAleba: Tedla Bairu do eyelen sni Tseba. The Prodigal Son, Tedla, surely came home.

In the footsteps of his father, Herui Tedla Bairu, while a student in London, rejected the promise of a “junior” ministerial position and subsequently joined the Eritrean revolution; while the late Seyoum dashed to “adi amhara” and left no stone unturned to get a high government position. Some Eritreans advocated andnet; Seyoum lived it.

The original “andnet”, although understandable, was wrong, but the new born-again “andenetism” is annoyingly stupid. The latter-day andnet are the intellectual “Rashaida and Bedouin thugs” who are trying to exploit us in our moment of weakness and despair. But these momentary headaches can be tolerated for the greater good of freedom of expression.

“But the Eritrean Liberation Front, with the defection of Dejazmach Tedla Bairu, the former Secretary of the Unionist party and the first Chief Executive of the Government of Eritrea, has started to attract young Christian Eritreans of the Highlands, particularly those in the Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa and the University of Asmara.” (Pg.180)

 Reading the book, one fearfully comes to the conclusion that Ethiopia is primarily guided by winning and the culture of “zemecha” and the motto “To the victor goes the spoilage.” To the chagrin of many of us, the late Meles and the current regime in Ethiopia have and are religiously following a long tradition of Ethiopian diplomacy that skillfully pays lip service to legality and morality. Might has always been the ultimate right to the Ethiopian rulers; and right is, and ought only to be, according to Ethiopian modern history, the slave of might, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey it.[iii]

One definite thing a reader will learn from reading the book is the inevitability of the revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy. Many people, foreigners and Ethiopians alike, had seen the handwriting on the wall and all had warned the emperor. But even the emperor who had “the wisdom to heed the voices counseling” was blinded by the calm before the storm.


The book offers a wealth of information and insights that would enhance readers’ understanding of the gigantic and historic problems confronting the countries of the Horn of Africa. Any serious student of the Horn of Africa must read it. I’m glad that Seyoum had taken the time to write it and could hardly wait for his next autobiographical book, “From Arbate Asmara to Harvard Square” which will be released at the end of the year.

May Seyoum rest in peace.

The book can be purchased from the publisher, Red Sea Press or Amazon:


Semere T Habtemariam is a culumnist at; author of “Hearts like Birds” and the forthcoming book on the History and Faith of the Tewahdo Orthodox Church of Ethiopia and Eritrea. He can be reached at or via


[i] [From the coffee shop where I am currently writing, I could see through the glass window a beautiful April day with lash green trees and grasses on a well-manicured yard a few feet away from me and I can’t help but say, in the words of aboy Haregot, ‘Could there be the same beautiful day in Asmera too?’]

Deqe Asmera promenading on a beautiful Asmera evening! A sight I can get used to. Sga sayram ele.

Asmera, under the leadership of Haregot was truly, “Arusa beHineta”. A bride adorned with Hina. I dream of the day when the likes of aboy Haregot will be running our beloved capital city.

[ii] The OAU is the precursor of the AU (African Union).

[iii][iii] From Hume’s definition of reason

About Semere T Habtemariam

Semere T Habtemariam is an author and a columnist at Awate. He holds a BA in Government and Politics and a MA in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas. He lives in Dallas, Texas. His two books are: Reflections-History-Abyssinian-Orthodox-Tewahdo and Hearts-Like-Birds.

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Book Review by Semere T Habtemariam Title: SmeTr Hamassien: Objective and Struggle (ስመጥር ሓማሴን፥ ዕላማን …

  • Extraterrstrial

    There is no Eritrea without being the antidote of what is Ethiopia. Hate mongering and distorting facts about Ethiopia is the typical behavior of this empty identity called Eritrea. Back off from Ethiopia’s shoulder, boring people!!!

  • denden

    Well is the book a phantom book then or is it sold to selected individuals?lol We can not buy it from amazon, information where to get as well is secretive!maharena christos!

  • Dear Semere,

    When you say that Rashaidas are not Eritrean, on what basis do you claim that?

    This is not a provocative question, it simply surprised me a lot. Granted, they are “recent” arrivals from across the Red Sea and yes, they have an Arab affinity. But why should these aspects make their claim to an Eritrean nationality less rightful? Perhaps they contributed little to the Struggle?

    It is an uncomfortable truth that Rashaidas were in the land you now call Eritrea before the word even existed in common usage…

    Indeed, multiple layers of identity is a universal phenomenon. I am truly shocked at how you have the audacity to openly say that’s a particular group of people who have been born in a particular territory do not have the right to the nationality of that territory because of their Ethnic identity… This can be considered outright racism by some.

  • sam

    When I saw the topic about Dr. Seyoum, I was so eager to read it. But reading it was dismay.
    But i can tell you this; back in 2002 when i was doing a research for my thesis, I came across the minutes of the constitution drafting commission. The minutes is a compilation of the discussions that the members had during their meetings. I read the whole compilation with kin interest. From my reading, i found out that Ato Tesfaghiorgis Beatay and dr Seyoum were the two who were coming up with so many constructive comments. I know Beatay, he was my professor; but I dont know dr. Seyoum. I just want to say something about what Dr. Seyoum did as member of the Commission. I can not remember what I read word for word but I can give you the idea with my own wordings.( It has been 11or 12 years now; but I provoke you to read it.) I read Dr. Seyoum, in one of the regular meetings of the Commission, saying that we should have a clause on the enforcement of the constitution; after some discussions the chairman, Dr. Bereket, asked Dr. Seyoum to draft the clause and bring it to the next meeting. He did and put it forth for discussion; the article generally stipulated (I don’t remember the exact wordings) that the constitution shall be effective when ratified by the national assembly and that election shall be held two months after the ratification of the constitution to establish a constitutional government. However, the clause encountered a lot of opposition from the representatives of the government, especially Ato Zemhret Yohannes, the elite lead representative. At that point Dr Bereket said that he needed to discuss the clause with the Front (GNBAR- Bereket’s word, I remember!) and the meeting was adjourned. What we all knew later is that that article never showed up in the last draft; not even a trace of it!! If you notice, that SAME last article of the Eritrean Constitution is now regarding amendment of the constitution.
    Back in the 90’s I remember Dr bereket coming to TV and saying qwam lguam mengsti eyu (the constitution is a bridle on the government.) But Dr. Bereket forgot to put the Lguam on the government. By any standard of a constitutional law philosophy, the Eritrean Constitution is too general and abstract to realize let alone in Eritrea or any African country, even in western democracies where constitutionalism is said to be so entrenched in their society and system of governance. For me the Eritrean constitution is a mere skeleton whose flesh and blood are to be provided by legislations. Most African constitutions are as much as possible descriptive. This is because African governments are authoritarian and constitutionalism is nonexistent or is at its infantile stage. By all measures, we are not an exception to this reality. In fact, as a new country too new to constitution and most importantly to constitutionalism, we need more descriptive constitution than our other authoritarian African countries. So why did Dr. Bereket with his sound intellect opt to draft a constitution that is too aloof to Eritrean reality? To make it even worse,why did he draft a constitution that lucks an enforcement clause, the impact of which is the current situation- the shelving a ratified constitution? The answer to all these is in the minutes. I am sure Dr. Bereket must have a copy of the minutes. Ask him. If by any chance he is able to lend you read it for yourself and you would know who were the active bad guys, the inert nones and the active good guys in the whole process.

    • Semere Habtemariam


      That is a great point. I was not aware of it and rest assured I will dig further into it. But, Seyoum in the 2001 letter along with his 5 former members lied and told us there was no English draft and that Seyoum was entrusted to do the translation. In his new book, he says he did the final touches.

      The point that you made does not make Dr. Bereket look bad. As a chairman he allowed it to be discussed and drafted and when he saw the Isaias loyalist, Zemeheret, becoming a stumbling bloack he took it to the gnbar where it was buried for good. This is not the only clause that was killed by the ginbar. We have anecdotal evidence to show that the Constitutional Commission was not entireley independent and suffered from the intrusive hand of the government.

      I wish you could enlighten us with the research you’ve done on the subject.

      I recommend you read the book for I honestly don’t understand why you were dismayed by my review.


      • sam

        Dear Semere,
        Thank You. I have not read the book yet and honestly I was not dismayed by your review.Sorry if it came across as a dismay at your review. Believe me nothing like that; it is all due to luck of editing and pruning. Your review, in fact, gave me a perspective as to how I used to see Dr. Seyoum. I admire him for what he did as member of the Commission. But dismayed to read the other side of his life.
        As for Dr. Bereket, I respect him; he is one of my/our pride.For some reason i missed him when he came to Dallas a year or so ago.But i still want to ask him why he preferred to refer the matter to the GNBAR while he was leading a supposedly independent Commission? Also, why he preferred to submit the draft for ratification without an enforcement clause or effective date clause? This is a standard clause which you find in any law- be it a constitution or a legislation. He might be(and for sure he was)pressured. But you know what, the leading constitutional law expert that he is, I would expect him to challenge the GNBARawyan or resign. I would say that would have changed the quagmire we are in now.

        With appreciation,

        • Semere Habtemariam


          I think Dr. B has addressed your question sometime back, although, it was along the lines of we trusted the government and we didn’t expect this negative outcome. It sounds the usual run of the mill response–the notorious “tegerihna”. Doesn’t it? I’ll talk to him about this and Sam (I didn’t know you’re from Dallas), perhaps, you and I can meet for coffee and discuss this further.


  • Habtegiorgis Abraha

    Dear Semere,

    I highly appreciate your efforts. I only wanted to pick up a minor point, regarding your quote: “But the Eritrean Liberation Front, with the defection of Dejazmach Tedla Bairu, the former Secretary of the Unionist party and the first Chief Executive of the Government of Eritrea, has started to attract young Christian Eritreans of the Highlands, particularly those in the Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa and the University of Asmara.” (Pg.180).

    Not for long but I’d been a student of the A.A uni; and I joined the ELF as a student from the Asmara Uni.

    I claim I was motivated, and I believe many did, to join the liberation war becs. of the revo situation of the day (… Fano Tesemara …).


    • Semere Habtemariam

      Selam Habtegiorgis,

      You make an excellent point and I believe that was the case for most people, but I think Seyoum is also not wrong in making that observation. I think it is a matter of degree and not substance. I’m sure Tedla Bairu’s defection has played a role.

  • Kebreab

    Hi Semere:
    On May 24/2013 on paragraph 1 and 5 you wrote:
    1. I would rather you respond in sarcasm than in outright misrepresentation of my views or attributing things I didn’t write. Sarcasm rightly used is an appropriate response. You see, I didn’t comment on you; I restricted my comments on your comments and that is fair. When your comments were reasonable, I respected them and when they were stupid, I called a spade a spade. You are entitled to your opinions but you don’t have the right to your own facts.
    2. Indeed, I’m very intrigued why Tigrinya speaking Eritreans in Ethiopia did not ethnically identify with their Tegaru brothers. I’m even puzzled why many Eritreans (let me qualify it by saying of the ones I know and on the discussions I’ve had with other Eritreans)prefer Amharas than Tigaru. You see I don’t see any difference between Tigrinya speaking Eritreans and Tigaru–we’re the same. I honestly don’t care about the prevailing politics that is unnecessarily creating divisions among us, but I cannt deny the fact that a Tigrinya speaking person from Seraye, Akeleguzay, Hamasein, Adwa, Agame, Tembien…are the same people, ethnically, culturally, religiously and historically. I’ve not had the honor of visiting Tigray but I can imagine that is one place outside Eritrea where I will completely feel at home. I’ve never met a Tigrayan I didn’t like or one I didn’t feel a sense of kinship with it. As I said before, when a Tigrinya speaking Eritrean sees him/herself in the mirror, s/he sees a Tigrayan and the opposite is true. The sooner we realize, appreciate and honor this truth, the better chance we will have for a better future.
    My response is:
    1. I would like you to tell me exactly where I misrepresented your views or attributed things which you didn’t write. It is not my intention to do so, but if I have done it inadvertently, I am ready to be corrected.
    2. You are entitled to your opinion but I am still puzzled what message you want to convey.
    By the same token:
    a. Do you support the Rashaidas of Eritrea to identify themselves with the Arabs?
    b. Do you support the Afars of Eritrea to identify themselves with the Afars of Ehiopia and Dijibouti?
    c. Do you support the Hadarb of Eritrea to identify themselves with the Sudan Hadarb?
    d. Mind you, the Tigryans are Ethiopians. Isn’t the notion of Tigray Tigrignie dangerous for Eritrea? TPLF and ex-TPLF leaders have been harping on the idea of regime change in Eritrea. Thus they want to install a puppet gov’t in Eritrea and gradually erode our independence, or at least , take away the port of Assab.
    I don’t have any hatred towards Tigryans as a people or individuals. I have good friends from Tigray. I would like the reconciliation and confidence building process to take place and establish good neighborly relations. But I would take extreme caution when dealing with Tigray because of the hard lessons I learned in the last 15 years.
    i. How can I forget the expulsion of innocent Eritreans from Ethiopia after the war between the two countries in 1998? Old men and women, children and disabled were striped of their properties and sent back through the extremely hot(Asssab) and arduous roads. Some of the disabled had to be carted and the blind had to be guided. Could you put yourself in their situation and try to feel the pain?
    ii. They have failed to respect the final and binding border ruling issued by the Ethio-Eritria border commission. They are still occupying our sovereign territory, including Badme, which was awarded to Eritrea.
    iii. We are paying dearly militarily, economically, socially etc. because of the “no peace no war” situation.
    Finally, it is my position, emotion driven by cultural and linguistic ties shouldn’t override our national interest. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to fantacies and wishfull thinking.

    Happy 22nd Independence anniversary

    • Semere Habtemariam

      Selam Kibread,

      I’ll honor my promise of responding to you if you approach me in the right manner.You’ve done that, for the most part, with the exception of the last sentence and I can afford to ignore it.

      1. You misrepresented my views when you accuse me of calling you and others stupid. I never did. I called your two and other similar comments stupid because they were for the very definition I gave. As a person, you strike me as a very intelligent, well-informed person but we are all capable of making stupid mistakes and when we do, it is fair if someone points them out to us. I never said anything about the kinship relationship between Eritreans and Tigaru; I was specific about Tigrinya speaking Eritreans and Tigaru, but you extrapolated and make it about Eritreans. Believe me a Hdarb has nothing to do with Tigaru and as far as they are concerned we are all habesh.

      2. If you read my article, that is exactly what I said about the need for caution with Tigrayans and Ethiopians. Their commimtment to doing the right thing is historicallly very dismal. I gave the examples of Somalia and the Sudan for that purpose. The Ethiopianization of TPLF has not been good to us; they are following the same policies of the Amhara dominated previous regimes and we have every reason to be extra cautious. But this should never make us deny our blood ties with them and if we could wise up, it could be a bridge to fostering a great future for both of us and for the two countries.

      3. I agree with all the things you’ve said about the border war and its effect on us and we should never forget the harms we have suffered. Putting it simply, you and I are in the same wave-length, on this issue. My views on the border is not much different from the regime in Asmera, I just abhor the medicore way they are handling it. On the border issue, I’m a strong ally of the Eritrean government but in their infinite wisdom they would never recognize that because, as far as they are concerned, any Eritrean with a dissenting opinion is an enemy of the state.We are in the no war and no peace situation because of Ethiopias refusal to comply the court’s decision. This is the crux of the matter and the crocodile tears they shed in the name of justice and the partition of people is an old Ethiopian ploy that masquarades as diplomacy.

      Finally, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and just reiterate what you have said: I also do not base my position on “emotion driven by cultural and linguist ties” when it comes to Eritrea’s national interest, but, at the same, time, reason tells me I should also not deny them. They could actually be used to promote our national interest. They are not inherently evil or good; they depend on how well and wisely we use them.

      As far as your questions labelled a,b,and c, the simple answer is “Yes”. No one has to jettison their ethnic and cultural ties with their own keith and ken for the sake of an artifical and man made identifications. Remember, our grandparents were not Eritreans and our grandkids might identify themselves as Horn of Africans, but, we will always be who we are ethnically because that is natural.The balkanization of the former Soviet Union is a perfect example of that: seb nab sebu zbi nab gerebu. All the intellectual isms and fads will come and go, but the natural bond among people will always prevail.

      As far as Rashaidas being Eritreans, I was not raised or brought up to believe that they were Eritreans and I’ve not found other information to make me change my views. If you want to educate me the Rashaida are Eritreans, please feel free. I want to know how they were granted Eritrean citizenship. This does not mean I oppose or support it, I just want to know before I change what I was taught by Tegadelti who are no longer with us and I would rather honor them by asking some serious questions that I’m sure will make some people uncomfortable. For instance, I don’t consider Hagos Kisha Eritrean: he was neither born in Eritrea nor his parents or, at least, one of them are from Eritrea. I like to know how he was granted Eritrean citizenship. Just because he contributed in the struggle does not automatically make him Eritrean. If Fidel Castro has to issue a decree to make EL Che a Cuban citizen, do we have similar decress that make Hagos Keisha Eritrean. I take citizenship seriously and we are entitled to know who is granting Eritrean citizenship and what the mechanisms are. That being said, I would be the first one to support granting Hagos Eritrean citizenship but it has to follow our rules and traditions and as long as the constitution is not implemented, Hagos should not be considered Eritrean. This should be more reason for him to advocate for the implementation of the constitution, but, he knows full well that the regime’s fall is his fall and he would not side with the Eritrean people.

      You see, Kibreab, I don’t like generalizations and to speak about the pie in the sky. I like to be grounded in reality and talk about the nuts and bolts of politics and at the heart of politics is citizenship. In fact the word politics is etymologically derived from polis a boundary that separates citizens from non-citizens. For example, some of the famous interlocators in Plato’s dialogues were not citizens of Athens, a city that gave us democracy.

      I’ve no malice or ill feelings towards these individuals or groups but, as a citizen, I’ve to question everything and know who is my fellow Eritrean. We have to have good immigration policies that gives immigrants the dignity of citizenship.

      Happy May 24 to you too. May we never forget how we achieved May 24 and the sacrifices we have made.

      Semere Tesfamicael Habtemariam
      Dallas, Texas

    • Sabri

      Selam Kibreab,
      Bihere tigringa in Eritrea and tigrayans share as you said many features like language, culture and religion but you forgot one important thing. It is during Italian colonialism the Eritreans distinct identity evolved. The socio economic structure of Eritrea profoundly changed during Italian colonialism whereas tigrayans continue to live as they used to live under Emperor Yohannes time. After the Italians departed the obvious difference shows clearly. Zemhret Yohannes has written excellent book on this subject. I recommend you. It is in tigringa and the title of the book is megzati italia ab Eritrea. Two things that has a great impact on the socio economic structure of Eritrea according to Zemhret is:
      1. The introduction of Iskirna
      2. The introduction of new labour market. 

      With Iskirna all biherat of Eritrea for the first time got a chance to interact with each other. With Iskirna they left their traditional way of earning their livelihood and became hired soldiers of Italians. That has a big role to change the socio economic structure. 

      Italians when they began to build new roads, buildings, new cities they needed huge labour and Eritreans were available to work in this new labour market that changed their way of life. I don’t mean they are treated well but it had profound impact in their life. 

      In the 1950s when shiftas spread all over Eritrea that shiftnet was highly dominated by tigrayans. When Eritreans moved to Ethiopia in the 1950s they had these things fresh in their mind that can possibly affect their relationship with tigrayans. Remember even before the advent of Italian colonialism relationship between tigrayans and bihere  tigringa in Eritrea was not smooth. 

  • Semere Habtemariam

    Selam Kibreab,

    I would rather you respond in sarcasm than in outright misrepresentation of my views or attributing things I didn’t write. Sarcasm rightly used is an appropriate response. You see, I didn’t comment on you; I restricted my comments on your comments and that is fair. When your comments were reasonable, I respected them and when they were stupid, I called a spade a spade. You are entitled to your opinions but you don’t have the right to your own facts.

    Everything you’ve said about Seyoum is in the book. I’m very aware of them. Remember, I read the book and the critique was the result of that. I’ve been writing on Eritrean matters since my college days and anyone who has read me will tell you that I don’t mince words, tell it the way it is, very blunt or according to my friends the last standing man of the typical Hamasenay “hanti melHasu”. One day, I was chairing a meeting and during a short break, an Aswarta man approached and said to me, “Only a Hamasenay could say that. Are you from Hamasein?” I took it as a compliment. I value honesty and don’t harbor any ill-feelings towards anyone. Hamasenay megbu gogo zerebu hdego. Unfortunately this honorable tradition is dying out. My critique of Seyoum’s book is not personal; don’t have any ill-feeling towards the man or his family.

    Kebread, you keep telling me of the obvious facts that the author has belabored in telling me, but like him you also conveniently forget that he came to Harvard, Beirut and the Sudan under an Eritrean and not Ethiopian government. His education had nothing to do with Ethiopia but to use your word, he has the “audacity” to tell us he is the first “Ethiopian” to graduate from Harvard Law School. From an Eritrean perspective, I didn’t find anything “honorable” about this man. For God’s sake, how honorable could he be when a man of his caliber chose to serve a petty tyrant when he fully knew the “holy grail” in Eritrea is vanishing under the petty dictator.

    It looks now, Kebreab, you’ve taken the right approach. If you don’t understand what I’ve said, then, asking for more clarification is the right way and I would gladly comply. The reason why I and many others write is out of a sense of responsibility and an obligation to our country and fellow Eritreans and the aim is to promote public discourse and honest debate. Sometimes, we will make mistakes and when that happens I also hope we will have the courage to admit our mistakes, apologize and try to make it right. If you could demonstrate to me–in a substantative manner–where I made mistakes, I’m, believe it or not, someone who does not have any problem to acknowledge mistakes and do the right thing.

    Indeed, I’m very intrigued why Tigrinya speaking Eritreans in Ethiopia did not ethnically identify with their Tegaru brothers. I’m even puzzled why many Eritreans (let me qualify it by saying of the ones I know and on the discussions I’ve had with other Eritreans)prefer Amharas than Tigaru. You see I don’t see any difference between Tigrinya speaking Eritreans and Tigaru–we’re the same. I honestly don’t care about the prevailing politics that is unnecessarily creating divisions among us, but I cannt deny the fact that a Tigrinya speaking person from Seraye, Akeleguzay, Hamasein, Adwa, Agame, Tembien…are the same people, ethnically, culturally, religiously and historically. I’ve not had the honor of visiting Tigray but I can imagine that is one place outside Eritrea where I will completely feel at home. I’ve never met a Tigrayan I didn’t like or one I didn’t feel a sense of kinship with it. As I said before, when a Tigrinya speaking Eritrean sees him/herself in the mirror, s/he sees a Tigrayan and the opposite is true. The sooner we realize, appreciate and honor this truth, the better chance we will have for a better future.

    If I would live in Ethiopia, I would proudly identify myself as Tigraway just as Eritreans of Tigrayan ancestry identify themselves as either Hamasenay, Seraye and Akeleguzay. A good example is the biggest wedi Hafti, the man at the helm of power who identifies himself as Hamasenay or Weldeab Woldemariam, one of the prominent leaders of the 40s and 50s, a Serawetay. Remember, how Hagos Kisha, a full-bloodied Tigrayan Joseph without Josephite wisdom was accused of regionalism–favoring Akeleguzayans and this guy was not even born in Akeleguzay; he actually came to Eritrea (Akelguzay) as a teenager.

    I hope that, at leat, gave you a hint of where I am coming from.

    take care

    • F.M.

      Semere, I don’t believe that you are truly ‘intrigued’ over the preferential issue partly because you seem to suggest they married into Amhara family for the purpose of climbing the ladder. According to you most of them didn’t even marry into the nobility as if that would assuage your pride. I would be interested to see if you could just for a second entertain possibly the preference is a two way street and that they felt at home within any Ethiopian society. Didn’t take them long to become like one of the locals wherever they went within Ethiopia.

      • Semere Habtemariam

        I wish what you’ve said is true, but you know it as well as I do how much the Amharization process deprieved non-Amhara Ethiopians their rightful cultural and ethnic pride. Being Amhara was the gold-standard of Ethipianiness and a lot of Oromos particularly were victimized by it.

        I’m indeed intrigued (believe whatever you want) by the impact of Amharization. I know people some (amiches) who have been in the US for more than 20 years and still speak Amharic when they fully know most of the Eritreans with them don’t know or speak Amharic. I even know some Eritreans who have invested a great deal to learn Amharic in order to fit in with these group and their Ethiopian circles. As someone who grew up in the struggle and in the Sudan, this was totally a culture shock to me. I could not believe an Eritrean who didn’t have cultural and linguistic pride, the very things that ignited our revolution.

        Eritreans were not immune to Amharization; some have purposefully and intentionally adopted everything Amara. Imagine the late Seyoum, who didn’t speak Amharic in 1957, acting more Amara than the Amara, more Ethiopian than the Ethiopians. Imagine a decade before, the likes of Wel Wel were saying, “iziom Amhara, ashunkuay kgez’ikas ktgez’om uka zeyebhugu.”

        My reading of history tells me we need to reflect on our past and prepare a better future for our kids. Towards that goal, I’m ready to do my part.

  • Kebreab

    Hi Semere:
    I have copied and pasted your comment of May 22/2013 number 1, paragraph 2 hereunder:
    That being said: I’m intrigued why Tigrinya speaking Eritreans in Ehtiopia didnt identify themselves with their Tigrinya-speaking Ethiopians–the Tigaru. Is this the case of “Asha sebeyti’s wedHamuta zeyweda ymesla? The restoration of Tigryan pride is one of the few changes that makes me happy. Thanks to Alemseged Abbay, I now know the politics of “Y” where Tigriyans were forbidden to use their proper name. My only concern is that the EPRDF ‘Ethiopianess” is undermining TPLF’s Tigrayness. EPRDF’s policies, unlike the TPLF’s is a continuation of the Amhara dominated Ethiopian policies.

    Could you please elaborate what you mean by your words: “ I’am intrigued why Tigrinya speaking Eritreans in Ethiopia didn’t indentify themselves with their Tigrinya speaking Ethiopians-the Tigaru.”
    I have told you several times that the late honorable Dr. Seyoum was hired by U.N.D.P. (United Nations Development program) in 1990. He worked as a senior technical advisor and thus he did not hold any public office in Eritrea.

    One of the important things the Eritrean Gov’t did after the liberation in 1991 was to pardon most Eritreans who collaborated with the Dergue. These included the cadres, military people, militias etc. Some of them received short term prison term or light sentences. The measure was a practical and wise decision.
    Again, I will not respond to your sarcasm in the same manner.

  • Kebreab

    Your audacity to call us “stupid” is outrageous. I am not going to stoop to your level and respond in a similar fashion. However, I would like to elaborate the following points:
    1. The late honorable Dr. Seyoum Haregot never held nor did seek an official position in the Eritrean Government. He was hired by U.N.D.P. in 1990 because of his impressive credentials. He was later assigned to Eritrea after 1991 as a senior technical advisor. He served in the constitution commission executive committee as a result of his legal background.
    2. It is any body’s prerogative to write a memoir about his experience and that’s what Dr. Seyoum did.
    3. When somebody acquires a citizenship by birth you can’t strip him that right regardless of his political belief. If he commits a crime against his country, the only thing you can do is indict him in a court of law and take appropriate measures. But , if he renounces his birth country’s citizenship and acquires the citizenship of another country , that’s his right. Therefore, you can’t deny or grant citizenship to Dr. Seyoum or Dr. Amare , as they are Eritreans by birth.
    4. At the height of the Eritrean armed struggle, Dr. Seyoum was not part of the Ethiopian government. He was in prison from 1974 to 1982 and he came to the U.S.A. in 1985. Thus he already severed his ties with Ethiopia long before independence. He voted in the referendum for independence; he did his utmost to help Eritrea through U.N.D.P.; he contributed in the crafting of the constitution and finally defended Eritrea’s position on the border conflict with Ethiopia in every way possible. Isn’t this more than offering mya culpa to Semere Habtemariam?
    5. With regard to Dr. Amare, correct me if I am wrong, this is the information I have about him:
    A: He quit the Ethiopian Gov’t sometime in the late 80’s. As a matter of fact, he was part of the Eritrean delegation in Atlanta, which President Carter attempted to mediate between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
    B: As the chairman of the referendum commission of Eritrea, he did an outstanding job. His record was recognized by the U.N. and thus was assigned to do similar task in South Africa.
    C: After 1993, Dr. Amare served the Eritrean Gov’t as a foreign affairs advisor. With a PH. D. in political science and rich experience, Dr. Amare could have made more money and been prepared for his retirement. However, he chose to serve his people. In all fairness, shouldn’t this guy be commended than condemned?
    6. I am puzzled When you said that Eritreans should identify themselves with Tigrians in Ethiopia. What message are you trying to convey? You need to understand that Eritrea is a country of nine nationalities, and people of the same nationality can be in different countries. For instance, there are Afars in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Dijibouti.
    Finally, I reiterate my advice that you exercise caution and humility before unleashing your vituperation and rendering your judgment on people.

    • Semere Habtemariam


      First, I defined what I meant by stupid, but if the shoe fits, feel free to wear it. I was talking about the comments and not the people. Actually, your comments are a perfect example of my definition because they attribute stuff I didn’t say. Let me show you the two stupid comments you’ve made. I’m not saying you’re stupid, but your two comments are.

      Look at your number 2 and 6. Where did you get that? I never said these individuals are not Eritreans or advocated for the revocation of their citizenship. All I said is they should not have been allowed to serve in public office or be in position of authority and I maintain that position and will keep maintaining it. If they are to serve, then, at least, they need to acknowledge their mistakes and apologize.

      (6)I specifically said Tigrinya speaking Eritreans and you’re making it about all Eritreans.

      This willful negligence against facts, reason and logic and this is what I called stupidity.

      I don’t have any problem with your other arguments. They are reasonable.

      I don’t know you; I only go by what you wrote and I judge your writing accordingly. Your 2 and 6 comments are stupid while the rest of your arguments are reasonable and I take them seriously.

      If you’ve failed to understand why I raise these issues, let me spell it out for you: it is all about character and these people have demonstrated a pattern–a pattern of not standing up for justice, doing the right thing. They have demonstrated time and again their inclination to serve dictators, tyrants and kings.

  • Semere Habtemariam


    You’ve a habit of “gual zereba and qoyoqa” and I’ve done a good job of ignoring you so far, but I didn’t think you would stoop this low. While at it, have some respect: For God’s sake, you are a member of the leadership of ENCDC and act like one; and stop pretending you’re not part of it. At least, some of us have the wisdom of not participating in it and we have held our peace too. It was a conscious decision on my part not to go to Awassa or any other subsequent Ethiopia-organized meetings. Putting the cart before the horse is not a receipe of success and some of us have the foresight not to be part of it.

    People write and act on what they believe is important to them and that is exactly what I’m doing. You’ve written many articles that I didn’t like and some that I just chose not to read, but, I don’t have the right to tell you what to write and I hope you would extend me the same courtesy. You’re in no position to lecture anyone. But knowing how combative and argumentative you’re, I assure you, this is the last comment you’ll ever get from me. You were unnecessarily criticizing and chastizing EPDP and ELF-RC for the very thing that you’re now saying; but you don’t even have the decency to acknowledge your short-sightedness. EPDP, to their credit, all along, have said the national conference–the way it was hastily organized–would not work and now you are telling us ad nauseum it didnt work. Sometimes, you even talk as if the ENCDC does not exist. Not having shame is the worst shame.

    Menaberti zkoneka ayteneqneq: The people in PFDJ are my brothers and sisters too and rest assured time will bring us back. My goal is to win them over and not to destroy them. The overwhelming majority of people who support PFDJ are decent Eritreans who love and care about their country and these are the people any responsible and national opposition should exert all efforts to win over. But rest assured, I will also advocate in future Eritrea that the few PFDJ lackeys who are knowingly or not serving the regime and prolonging its life will not enjoy the privelege of public office. Who we entrust with public office says a lot about who we are as a people. It is wrong to be represented by the very people who represented the enemy we fought against. At least, these people have to publicly acknowledge their mistakes and misjudgments and ask forgiveness.

    Ageg ZeytetsaHafe aytenbb. All I said was that Eritreans who were serving the Dergue and stood against our struggle should not enjoy the privelege of public office and that is exactly what PFDJ is doing. Nobody is denying their Eritreaness or depriving them of anything but they should not enjoy the privelege of public office. Agree or disagree, you have the responsiblity to understand what I said: don’t put words in my mouth.

    I’m not fond of people who talk in general terms; quite often, I’m them not friends of the truth. I tried to be as objective and as specific as I can in my writings. I was four years old when Seyoum was in jail, I’ve nothing against the man, but as an Eritrean I should care about our public life. I was pretty generous and more importantly truthful with the late Haregot Abbay and even wished for an institution to be named after him. I’m very aware of his andnet but I understand the era and prevailing political and intellectual climate and have to judge him accordingly. It is the same yardstick I applied to his son, the late Seyoum, but Seyoum fell short and I’m not going to compromise the truth or my own personal integrity for offending some peoples’ sensibilities.

    One of the reasons why veteran tegadelit are unwilling to rise up against this brutal dictator is because they were betrayed by the leadership. The saw they country they loved and sacrificed so much for being used by people who were against their struggle and those who did not contribute much or even worse, anything. Eritrea did not love them back. The people and families who contributed the most towards the struggle were the ones who did not enjoy the fruits of their struggle and that is plainly wrong.

    • Semere,

      Since when do you respect people? What we know about you is that a simple political provocation can make you to swing your mood and spit every kind of temper tantrum. Just look what you said to kebreab “stupid” like a child. This is what you call respect in your definition. This is my advice to you when you are cooled read all your comment again what you have said to those who oppose your opinion. Second since you are the only Eritrean who speaks the truth, I mean “political truth” as you claim yourself…we will refer to you people who seeks the truth to counsel

  • Semere Habtemariam

    I can’t blame people for being ignorant, illiterate and uneducated; life is sometimmes unfair, but I can’t stand those who write under the influence of stupidity–willful defiance against reason, logic and facts. Some of the comments are plain stupid; and part of me says that I should not dignify them with a response. But, it behooves me to clariy few things.

    1. Seb key mote meshela key sewete aytefred:- Seyoum’s book, technically speaking is a memoir–his personal interpretation of events that he was a part of. He is part of the eye-witnessing narrative and his credibility as a witness of history is an important part of it and one that we need to look at critically. I’ve made it clear that I can’t judge him on the basis of modern Ethiopian history since my knowledge of it does not allow me to take him to task but on the Eritrean side, I find him to be dismally credible. I don’t have a problem with Seyoum wanting to be an Ethiopian and an Amhara; but Seyoum wanted to have his cake and eat it too. As I said in my previous comment, I respect Bereket Simon for his Ethiopianness, although, his Amharaness seems to be a legacy of the Amharization process which made being an Amhara the gold-standard of Ethiopianness. (And for those accusing me of Amhara hatred; get real, I like me and hate anything that denies me to be me. Ask yourselves why the Tigrayans, the Oromos and the Ogadenis were fighting against? Unless you come to terms with how the successive Ethiopian regimes have–in your name, language and culture–oppressed other non-Amhara people, the chances of everlasing peace in Ethiopia will be significantly diminished. And, yes, I do care about Ethiopia because what goes for Ethiopia goes for the Horn of Africa. My interest in Ethiopia is not due to some atavistic attachment, but simply enlightened self-interest.)

    That being said: I’m intrigued why Tigrinya speaking Eritreans in Ehtiopia didnt identify themselves with their Tigrinya-speaking Ethiopians–the Tigaru. Is this the case of “Asha sebeyti’s wedHamuta zeyweda ymesla? The restoration of Tigryan pride is one of the few changes that makes me happy. Thanks to Alemseged Abbay, I now know the politics of “Y” where Tigriyans were forbidden to use their proper name. My only concern is that the EPRDF ‘Ethiopianess” is undermining TPLF’s Tigrayness. EPRDF’s policies, unlike the TPLF’s is a continuation of the Amhara dominated Ethiopian policies.

    2. The book was published after Seyoum passed away; but this does not mean he is not talking to us from the other world. Isn’t that why he wrote the book? And it is only fair that we respond. The mwt aytkses mantra does not apply to public figures. We have every right to judge their records because in those records is where we find our history. Seyoum’s record shows that he was against the Eritrean revolution. It is not my word; that is what he says in his book and he does not apologize for it. He seems to take pride in the fact that he conducted diplomatic missions designed to cripple the Eritrean revolution and that in my world is not how a self-respecting and proud Eritrean should behave. At least, he should have acknoweldged that he was on the wrong side of history.

    3. Indeed, we are aware of few Eritreans who were on the side of our enemy; some in high government positions, while others as mlisha sernai, kinet and so forth. Those who have genuinely repented and acknowledged their mistakes should be able to enjoy life as Eritreans but it is wrong to have them occupy visible public offices. The likes of seyoum, Amare Tekle and Yefta Demetros don’t deserve any public office in Eritrea. Unfortunately, today’s Eritrea has been good to them and terrible to those who fought and bled for it.

    4. There were also Eritreans who were serving the Ethiopian government but when the conflict intensified they either decided to abandon the government and live in exile or joined our revolution; but they refuse to serve a government that was killing their people. dedulaka Haz ms kone dula adebo iyom Hizom imbagaro zeweAlu; and I can’t be prouder. People like Yfteha Demetros were serving the notorius butcher of Addis Abeba till they were removed from their posts with the removal of the regime.

    4.You see, first and foremost, I look at things from an Eritrean perspective because that is where my loyalty and fedility lies, and I’ve taken a personal oath to honor the sacrifices my people have made–in any way that I can. I’m very proud of our struggle and don’t have any interest or inclination to undermine our heroic struggle; we fought a good fight, and yes, we have taken wrong detours here and there, but ours was, overall, a good struggle and I commit myself to ensure that this legacy is preserved, protected and cherished by most if not all Eritreans. This is a personal responsibility I plan to shoulder till the day I die and will fight nail and tooth the annoyingly stupid latter-andenet and the few good-for-nothing “Ethiopia ayttenkfulna” opposition which have become a major liability to the legitimate Eritrean opposition.

    5. It makes absolute sense for the petty dictator in Asmera to aggressively recruit these types of individuals. He buys their blind loyalty by giving them opportunties they would otherwise not have. It is for this reason, why we see many turn-coats, former Ethiopian government officials, military leaders, people who have rediscovered their Eritrean heritage because the regime in Addis Ababa, in its infinite wisdom, deported their family members; and people who have not made any significant contribution to the most important national endevor Eritreans took in their modern history, the liberation struggle, in PFDJ corners.

    Eritreans have too many bonfide unsung heroes who have made enormous sacrifices on our behalf and it is these heroes that we need to celebrate. Those who stood against these heroes, unless they repent and acknowledge their mistakes should not have any place in our public life.

    • F.M.

      Please Semere, just because some doesnt buy into your ideology doesn’t make him or hers point of view less Eritrean, muchness less stupid.

    • Semere,

      Your comment will definitely attract PFDJ eyes for the prominent Eritrean chief of justice to adjudicate the Eritrean politics and Eritrean Identity. When we fought to liberate the land, it is to liberate our people (the entire population)….it wasn’t only for those who fought for it just to own it for their own plot and kick out those who didn’t pay their share in the struggle. It wasn’t and it won’t be. One thing I observed from you is that when you are provoked you become irrational….and I don’t know why. Take it easy Semere and Eritrea will be for all of us including for those who din’t fight for it.

    • Tazabi

      What is the indication that Seyoum wanted to be an Amhara – according to the review his wanting to be an Amhara is associated with his Ethiopian identity. This is a typical ploy of Eritrean nationalists – delegitimize Ethiopian identity by equating it to one ethnic group in Ethiopia. So only Amharas are Ethiopians the rest are Tigreans Oromos etc. That is what you are doing here. That dog does not hunt anymore.

      The second give away is you address those who pointed out the stated point to you as Amharas – that also betrays what your thinking is.

      From your review Seyoum looks like a fair weather Ethiopian. He abandoned being Ethiopian and became Eritrean when the going got tough.

      Finally – I think I am overstaying my welcome here at Awate forum. Some of my comments may have not met the forum’s standard – I notice I am being censored

    • F.M.

      “First, and foremost, I look at things from an Eritrean perspective because that is where my loyalty and fedility lies…”

      Yours or others who agree with you do have an Eritrean perspective, just don’t fool yourself that only yours is worth sharing as an Eritrean perspective. I think what’s stupid now days is to talk about who married whom from what ethnicity in such an insensitive way. People have mixed and will continue to mix. Some of us apperiate this. I don’t know about you, but the Eritreans I know in addis or from Addis mixed, married into different families including families from Tigray. Might want to open the window and let a little air come into your room, Semere.

      100% Eritrean 🙂

      • F.M.

        Spelling correction: apperiate = appreciate

  • Michael, B.


    Thank you for accepting the confused and repeatitive comment. I shall try to correct next time!

  • Yohanes Mussie

    Hey Awate:
    Quality control applies to every profession, including media. What is this junk in the name of “review”. It’s mere name calling, and vent for his grudge (or even malice) towards the writer. There is no discernible effort to describe a point, rather he attacked the person Dr. Sium (and his personal background).
    Worse (fortunately unsuccessful), he tries to infect the reader with his malicious hatred of Dr. Sium, and “Amharas”. Futile!
    His bias for some figures in history is equally vividly discernible (daring to call the late Dej. Tedla Bairu a noble! Huhhh!)
    His word usage is utterly disgusting (if not down-right criminal!)
    Lack of focus is a true indicator of a liar, a mental incapacitation, or a bad perception of a real image.
    The sun has set on AWATE (RIP, ….) Gone are the days when this website used to inspire intellectual dialogue with the sharp intellect and pen of people like AA Younis. It pains me to see Awate now rendered as capsized ship with the petty-intellect, and race-religion hate-mongers like Ghadi.

    RIP Awate- the once opposition to totalitarianism website!

  • Michael, B.

    Granted that Bereket is a man with intellect, the Commission chairman Mesfin W.Mariam could be viewed as a man of principle. He was jailed for what he stood and said. No mean achievement for an Amhara in Derg or Woyane evil times, even tough he maintained the stained notion that Eritrea was part and parcel of Ethiopia, if I am not mistaken. From the point of history, ancient or modern, Eritrea never was never that! There was no a dream-land called Ethiopia in the Amharaland.
    Legally Eritrea was federated …as a unit .. with Ethiopia, whatever that means, in view of the fact that the Eritrean people was never asked directly by vote or referendum. As it was annexed in a most barbaric fashion, Eritrea was not a province but still a Nation! Occupied but still standing, as there was no UN blessing for annexation.
    People like Seyoum, Tesfay, Bereket and others were serving the Amhara gultawi system for their own sake. They could not be possibly considered Eritrean at the same time. Could they be both?

    Semere, did Seyoum regard the Kibre Negest as a sort of a manual for the feudal Solomonic system? when infact it is a bad fiction story!
    You mentioned about Bereket being primadonna, however you do not tell how he did play the role. If he was a Callas and perhaps wished to be a Toscanini? Had he been a conductor, Semere

    Had he been a conductor,that is, replace Mesfin, would the performance be better, or save those individual of Eritrean extraction? who really did not have a say when Ras Tafari was emperor and his cohort Amhara. Seyoum may be right in qualifying him so, and surely he was better informed than us. Infact, when one heard Bereket cross-qustioning our poor Tesfay Gebrezghi, one could only say that Bereket was merciless or for some regional reason vindictive? Again, I may be wrong. The impression was bad! Bereket should not have accepted the role of a feudal inquisitor.
    But changing his role, one would still think that the result would have been be better for those poor individual of Eritrean extraction?

  • wedi Eritrea

    Very bad and subjective critique. Very disappointing – the author seems to take things personal. For example,he calls tegadelti heros because they chose to fight where as those who served the king as non~heros.This for me makes no sense. If people are figting to determine their future, dont they have the right to not be Eritreans?
    As a person born in the 1980s,I question the purpose of the armed strugle. I refuse to believe everything tegadelti have to say about it. At the same time, I won’t claim that it was not necessary. Gedli has evolved – the needs of the people who live on Eritrea’s soil have also changed. It is really wrong to subjectively make claims and interpretations with out taking the historical background into account

  • Kebreabze

    Hi Semere:
    Is this a a book review or a vendetta on behalf of Dr.Bereke against the late honorable Dr. Seyoum? The title of the book is ” Bureaucratic Empire serving Emperor Haile Sellasie.” Your review doesn’t even discuss the theme of the book. Your lack of objectivity doesn’t match your caliber.
    At any rate, Dr. Bereket is competent enough to defend himself. He should have responded when his colleagues of the constitution commission challenged him about 7-8 years ago that he was not the sole author of the constitution. He can still make it public1957 if he did the English version because my information is Dr. Seyoum Haregot did that part.
    Seyoum Haregot graduated from Harvard Law School, which is one of the ivy league universities in the U.S.A., around 1957. You can imagine what a great achievement was, especially, for someone who came from Africa at that time, where segregation was implicitly and tacitly prevalent in the U.S.A. Seyoum was qualified enough to attain the ministerial position or work in international organizations without marrying some one with a blue blood.
    Isn’t president Obama, Harvard Law Schoo Graduate, first generation Afro-American, leading the U.S.A.-the sole super-power in the world? Seyoum didn’t hold a position in the Eritrean Government. He worked for U.N.D.P. before our independence in 1991 and thus was assigned to coordinate the agency’s programs in Eritrea. Even if he worked for GOE, there is nothing to be ashamed of to serve his country. Don’t you know many Eritreans, not only civil servants, but many high ranking military personnel – including generals-who served the Ethiopian successive regimes joined the armed struggle or some how contributed to Eritrea.

    Needless to say, it would be prudent to exercise caution and modesty instead of assuming the role of a judge to certify some one as patriotic or not, GOE apologist or progressive and democrat anti GOE.

    Needless to say, you need humility and thus not entrust yourself with the authority to decide on some ones life, particularly, 60 years ago without taking into account the objective situation at the time.

    Who are you to certify who is Eritrean or non Eritrean; opponent of GOE or apologist?
    The late Seyoum Haregot got his J.D. from Harvard Law School and went back to Ethiopia around 1957. If you were in his situation, would you have gone back to Ethiopia at that time or remained in exile? You know that the Eritrean armed struggle started in 1961.

    I can’t accept this as a book review because the theme of the book is not Dr. Seyoum versus Dr. Bereket. All you did was attack the late honorable Seyoum Haregot which is not expected to come from some one of your caliber. If you want to satisfy to Dr. Bereket,
    you can ingratiate him in some other ways.
    you in some other ways. Dr. Berekt is competent enough to defend himself.

  • Kebreabze

    Hi Semere:
    Is this a a book review or a vendetta on behalf of Dr.Bereket and a smear campaign against the late honorable Dr. Seyoum? Is the theme of the book Dr. Seyoum versus Dr. Bereket? You didn’t even tell us the essence of the book.
    Who are you to certify who is Eritrean or non Eritrean; opponent of GOE or apologist?
    The late Seyoum Haregot got his J.D. from Harvard Law School and went back to Ethiopia around 1957. If you were in his situation, would you have gone back to Ethiopia at that time or remained in exile? You know that the Eritrean armed struggle started in 1961.

    I can’t accept this as a book review because the theme of the book is not Dr. Seyoum versus Dr. Bereket. All you did was attack the late honorable Seyoum Haregot which is not expected to come from some one of your caliber. If you want to satisfy to Dr. Bereket,
    you can ingratiate him in some other ways.
    you in some other ways. Dr. Berekt is competent enough to defend himself.

  • chef

    Semere deserves appreciation for the contributions in the issues that concerns us all although I had difficulty making a distinction between the review of the content of the book and the personal interpretation that apparently Semere draws. We are in period when some Eritrean still think that this is not the time to delve into detail of modern political history of Eritrean. Particularly talk about ‘individual’s role’ in Hizbawi Aylitat’s history doesn’t sit well with many.
    Regardless, diaries, letter and memoires will remain useful means to add to the annals of modern history of Eritrean. We need more of them to reconstruct the last 60-70 years history of Eritrean. In an essay ( a book review), he makes references to some episodes to base his subjective interpretation on the negative role of individuals at a some period during their journey.
    I like the subject the he now embarked on – individuals’ role at key events history. It is such a rigorous scrutiny. Semere’s uses inter-generational family history that can be compared to a zoological study. I wish he had qualified “dubious backgrounds”. One of the victims of arbitrary attributes is capable enough to defend himself but many not reply to this. What is dubious is semers’s knowledge of the individuals contribution to the efforts of armed struggle and ‘background’ whatever that means. I hope that would help Semere refrain from assigning statuses arbitrarily. I don’t think it is fair to selectively praise and condemn. The belittling “men yu Izi?” will not have an currency anymore.
    Let me add a few more points.
    1. I agree with the idea ‘Asfaha put the final nail on the coffin, but not to forget that he received the corpse from Tedla. Have you also noticed an interesting parallel. Tela says ‘Tigageyu Alekhum’ when the Eritrean Parliament called for his impeachment and the same phrase was used by Issaias to the G15 demands.
    2.. People have figured differently in a highly turbulent political situation. History has recorded how individual made sudden shift in alignments. We don’t know if that was well thought out and principled. With such historical precedence, we need to show magnanimity towards people who went through critical self-assessment. That is what is lacking now. I have high regard to Dr Bereket for honestly recanting his views in January 2009 in relation to a very unfair and bitter remark he had made on ELF’s disintegration in the early 1980..
    3. I also held the veteran tegadaly Dr. Assefaw Tekeste with respect. He is reputed to have defied Issais in since the gedli era. The problem with him like with many of his type tegadelti is he can’t be free himself from EPLF syndrome. He can’t move further from echoing ‘Qu’ wamna” as if Quwan is a panacea to all Eritrea ills. Such a man who appeared to have the caliber and charisma had made a disservice to himself in one the paltalks to comparing himself to Issaias and Meles on his ability to trace back his origin to 15 generation back. Please work out the number of years is he talking about. But the most interesting thing these days is two people from the same village in the highland Eitrea would give you two separate version of the history of early settlement of their village. This is might interest Semere in his quest for the what constitutes ‘Eritreanism’
    I like to further help Semere check his records. Kentiba Haregot was indeed the loved son of Asmara. When he was detained by the Dergue many Asmarinos were sad. As a child I remember on my way to Hibret school, he supervising the construction of Mai Bela sewer pipes Meda Saba, ( Cicero), closely following Mai Nefhi dam being constructed. Despite the praises he got he had his detractors. It was a norm for accepted that many Municipio employees were from around Araba Asmera. This is what many town halls do – give employment priorities to residents of the town. The problem according to many was when residents of Asmara applied for housing construction plots, he is allegedly to have made some unpleasant comments such as ‘why don’t you go to…….. (town)’ and build you house there’. This did not many residents happy. That was the time when Asmara belonged to its residents. Every penny collected from its tax payer was spent on its development. Now Asmara belongs to Eritrean and has to take care of over one hundred villages and settlements under the jurisdiction of “Zoba Maekel”, all competing for the social services.
    4. Speaking of the Haregot family, the post ’91 has not been bad to the them. I was in the burial of the Kentiba at Enda Mariam and had the chance to listen to one of most eloquent speeches by the late Dejazmach Ghebryohanes Tesfamariam, once a staunch Unionist. It was a an emotional and intelligent talk as well as a public repentance of by a traditional politician and community elder. .In nutshell what he said was, ” because of us our children had to pay sacrifices and because of the sacrifices Dejazmach Haragot’s remain was brought here and received a decent burial”. It was like a state burial in which Issais and his entourage, took part. Such was the respect given to the Haegot family and Asmarinos remained loyal as ever. The government was even more loyal by allowing them to reclaim their asset and licences such Asmara Bus Company, a monopoly of the city bas services. On a contrasting note, I have been unlucky to watch the burial of Asmarino cosmopolitanism, in Ghirmay Hargot flirtation. Once a high class flamboyant Asmarino now hanging around in bars and cafes with illiterate generals, biding to gift them including in the dance floor, ‘sticking the Nacka not on the forehead’. What an irony!
    Once again we should thank Semere for his contributions. But he needs to be read with caution and watchful of his partisan undertones. To claim validity of his interpretation, we hope Semere takes stoke from authentic, sincere narrative details. Also the songs as he did, they bear meaning, but need not be selective.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    There are still many who are not convinced yet that all what happened in Eritrea and ethiopia in the last 40 years boiled to eplf and tplf.

    In the mean time let’s see why tplf was more occupied that eplf setteled for secession than any other form in 1991-1993.

    1) Unity with shabia means the end of the beginning of meles vission of tigray first in behalf of Ethiopia. Isayas could manipulate eplf to what ever direction he wanted. But what tplf could say for offering tigrians for sacrificing for the secession of Eritrea. ‘it is only dictator derg which made us ..’ from isayas could make him the popular presidant of the New Ethiopia. Meles with his shame could end up in prison or sucide.

    2) Federalism with shabia means the fake federalism of tplf forced to be relativly fair for all federal states. Because a well organized eplf wouldnt settel for tigray first policy. What ever is done in tigray must be done in Eritrea.

  • Zaul

    What ethnic classification does Haile Menkerios belong to?

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    What Ethiopians (including Eritreans)lost in 1974 couldnt compare to anything what ever happened since the creation of Ethiopia. In 1974 was already 24 years counted since Eritrea joined Ethiopia. In this particular year the cumulative political consiousness of the People reached to such high level it made a change of a government where some Young miltiray Groups had a possiblity to read the King in front og him the list of their demands. This revolution was peopl’s revolution. It was just born out of the class difference between the Rich minorty and the poor the majority, just like the resto of civilized world. Before the king was removed the demands were ‘School for everybody, land for the farmers, freedom of Speech, equality of men and women etc. The mass revolution had changed its course soon to military juntaism due to Shabias militar action to secede Eritrea.

    The first year of the revolution followed by popular decisions
    1) Land to the mass
    2) Men and women are Equal
    3) Irradication of illitracy
    4) The privatization of private property

    (here is not to defend the decision of derg, just to report what was happened 40 years ago).

    The omentum of the mass revolution which made these decision.

    But soon this changed to night mere due to shabias hidden agenda. The derg changed from the Peoples voice to frantic decision to stop shabia but shabia too infilrated derg. That soon changed to the ugliest what Ethiopia witnessed. That changed the invitation to internationl Cold war stars Usa and Russia to come in. What a disastor since then!! What the king did to stop these gigants not to use Ethiopia (including Eritrea) as their battel ground like the rest of the Third world countries was genious. He is damn briliant King. the rest is history.

    Now after 40 years, we swimming in ethnics politics as if when that ethnic Group takes Power the class difference is going to removed overnight. That 1974 revolution is now burried by both tplf and eplf. It would not be mentioned at all. How come People were so civilized 40 years ago and managed such a change With out massacar. (dont tell me that you care for those 60 ‘amhara elits’, many woyane and shabia shade their corocodile tears).
    Are we realy the sons and grans sons of those 1974 revolutiionar People?

    In Ethiopia what People said no 40 years ago like land grabbing is now concidered as blessing. Having few ethnic based monopolist is concidered as blessing as long as we get one meal a day. Because it was olny few years that everybody used to have daily bread.

    This much we suffered due to Shabia the mother of ethnic based politics.

    If we ever understand what YG is telling us, then it is a Déjà vu from 1974. We just had it.

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      5) equality of religion.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear brother Tamrat Tamrat,

        I feel sick hearing the if’s and the past. If we didn’t do that but we do that, if the world was flat etc. what advantage will we get talking about the past? but some time i am forced to use it like- if the past experiences are not lessons i could have taken the word “if” out from my dictionary.
        I am begging you to think of now. we all wish to return back and correct all the past but that simply was designed to be past never to come back. i want to ask you a question, today what we are supposed to do? I know you are intelligent enough to answer by just accepting the reality on the ground.

        • Tamrat Tamrat

          Hi dear Kohkob! (i am always comfortable to discuss any thema, i am greatfull for that).

          There is no now with out the past. Specially when the 40 years Warriors are leading both Our countries now.

    • Tamrat:

      You can sanitize it with human political consciousness as pyschological defense but the truth is the 1974 downfall of King Haile Selase was the result, to a large measure, to the Eritrean Liberation Forces, who, liberating the entire Eritrean rural and semi-urban areas, had effectively confined the colonial army of Ethiopia to Asmera, and to a small extent, to the Wollo mass starvation, which the king had intentionally ignored but international media exposed mercilessly.

      Contrary to what you are telling us that the king had wisely protected Ethiopia from becoming the center of rivalry of both of the super-powers, the fact is, back then, it was public knowledge that the king had invited both Super-powers– the USA and the Soviet Union– to Ethiopia: the soviets were in Bahr-Dar, and the USA was everywhere, including at Qajew Station in Asmera, where the USA Navies were stationed, even the king’s personal advisor was a Lawyer of a United Citizen citizen. Need I say more?

      You called the king ” brilliant”; Nostalgia for the heyday of the Amhara fake supermacy ideology, isn’t it? But look, if the king were so brilliant, he would have never been so humiliated by his own people, who, as you probably remember, spited on his face while he was paraded on the street of Addis Abeba by the military.

      You wrongly attributed ethnicism in Ethiopia to EPLFs and I know why you made the linkage; again it is the nostalgia of the bygone Amhara fake supermacy, but you haven’t seen as of yet the whole ramification of the process initiated against injustice perpetrated on Eritreans by your brilliant king.

      • Tamrat Tamrat

        Hi Dawit!

        I have not the chance to witness the King were spited or glorified live. Comming back to the 1974 revolution of Ethiopia unless we live in different but parallel world you have no idea except the tplf/woyane propaganda. And after 40 years of propaganda it is not New that eplf says what ever ethiopians achived is the brilliant of eplf struggle is the cause. Get real.

        The revolution started by the students demonstration (you try that in Asmara you would undrstand the difference between the brilliant King and Your New King). Demonstration, strike, shool boycott was not followed by massacar during the king time. I dont want to lecture you how the revolution started and got moemntum. If you want to learn more of the 1974 revolution of ethiopia take off Your eplf glass and read the facts.

        The king regardless Your description follow international politics and he stopped the russian to come to read sea. Remember red sea is not the issue of the west and the russian but the Arabs too (those who claime Eritrea is arab then the issue is between the Arabs and the rest).

        PS: Learn the difference between amhara and Ethiopia. Other wise you are contradicting yourself that you preach the supermacy of amhara while amhara was starving to Death by the very amhara King.

        Elf and eplf prolonged the derg supremacy due to their civil war. remember the war between elf and eplf, and the war between eplf and tplf. Beside if you belive Ethiopia means the supremacy of amhara why you bother to replace is by tigre or tigrinya supremacy. Because you think tigre are better than amhara or what?

        • Tamrat,
          The Wollo mass starvation was not ignored by the king because he hated the people but because he did not want to compromise the false image he had build around himself by revealing the situation to the outside world.

          The students movements came very late, long after the military had weakened the king tremendously and only because the military’s deceptive initial garb of democracy.

          The existence of fake Amhara superiority can not be denied; neither can its moto of making Ethiopia and Amhara one and the same because one could see it uprooting the culture, langauge etc. of every ethnic group, and over their ashes, Amhara culture and langauge and fake history flourishing. Why do you think, for instance, the king burned our Tigrigna books, forbade Tigrigna and Arabic as a medium of Instructions in Eritrea?

          By the way, the junta did not overthrow the king to introduce equality among the Ethnic groups but to remove the threat, Eritrean Liberation Fronts, for the process of Amharanizing Ethiopia. For that he committed some bloodshed in Ethiopia but that was exceedingly miniscule when you compare it with what he committed in Eritrea.

          • Tamrat Tamrat

            Ya Dawit, i got you. Evry thing is done in Ethiopia is because of Eritrea but Eritrea couldnt do it for itself because of Ethiopia; that is you and shabia trying to tell us but that is a boodu politics or phylosophy. For Your personal progression try to see a difference between facts and propganda.

  • Sabri

    When Eritreans are preparing to celebrate national day these days those people like eyob are stretching their tentacles to belittle us. That he insult our ghedli history is unacceptable. Those who murdered and raped Eritreans during Ethiopian occupation used to say the same insulting words eyob uses about our ghedli. And he is allowed to insult and belittle our ghedli here at the heart of Awate (jemari sewra). Yigermena alo!! 

    • Semere,Andom

      Hi Sabri
      You are confusing the Independence Day that Eritreans yearned and paid dearly with the hypocrite, unethical celebration by PFDJ. Eritreans have nothing to celebrate on this day, this day is a day of mourning or at least day of reflection, but surely not day of intoxication, dancing and pontification, lecturing by the likes of you, who are conflicted. As one of the Eritrean father reportedly said to his daughter when she told him to watch the day of May 24, 1991, “ eza gualy neta video gemTilki yEtwiya Shaebia kwosTu kelow keteRiena”
      The people who are belittling and making mockery of the heavy sacrifices that we paid are PFDJ and their conflicted supports.
      Sabri, tell me what is the difference between being brutalized, dehumanized, raped and ridiculed by a Tigrinya/Tigrayit speaking vs. Amharic speaking? I abhor both. So do you prefer to be brutalized, raped and dehumanized by people who speak?


      • Sabri


        The history of Ghedli is the history Eritreans are proud of. In ghedli all are participating without discrimination and paid huge sacrifice. Now we have a guy who is free to belittle and insult the ghedli. This is what the ISSUE is about. The issue you are raising is out of the topic.

  • Eyob Medhane


    Sorry. Before I put my saw away, I got one more thing about the ‘wonderful’ ‘ghedli’. We learned today May, 17, 2013 that one of the ‘great’ veterans of gehdli has become (drum roll please) SOUTH AFRICAN’. Here is the news of announcement

    The same man was once Ethiopian, who was one of the founding fathers for one of Ethiopia’s premier political parties in late sixties and seventies called MEISON, as again ( another drum roll please )Ethiopian.

    He also once in public declared that, (a third drum roll please) a westerner.

    He also was an ambassador of Eritrea to Ethiopia, as Eritrean…

    Wow! One could have thought ‘ghedli’ was a ‘principled’ ideal, which installed on it’s leaders as well as it’s romanticizers. I guess it’s just a license for getting a passport for different countries, particularly for this gentleman

    • Salyounis


      Haha, my monolingual, monocultural, monomaniac friend:

      But wait there is more! Haile Menkerios married a Sudanese national in 2011, so, eat your heart out but he probably also has a Sudanese citizenship :)Here is a typically hyperbolic piece that was making the rounds when the news was announced:

      I sense a little jealousy here Guad Eyob, it’s ok to admit it. Ethiopia considers the AU its backyard and who is named UN representative to the AU? Yep. As for Haile being part of Meison, well, it’s no secret that the people who taught Ethiopians that it was ok to stand up against His Excellency Haile Selasse Elect of God were, drum roll, Eritreans. Of course the amazing pull of Ghedli was that there were Eritreans who had US citizenship and who gave it all up to go to the field. (Menkorios has a masters from Harvard where acceptance rate, in case you forgot, is less than 6%) Do a little soul searching: is there any cause that would make you give up the comfortable life you have set up for yourself? Ask yourself: if Ethiopia was attacked by a horde of your worst nightmare, Arabs, would you move to Ethiopia to defend her? Ask yourself that question in front of a mirror, answer it quietly, whisper softly and say “phew, those people really are better men than me.” 🙂

      We often hate that which reminds us of our inadequacies so your monomania about our Ghedli is understandable. I am not saying this to make you feel bad: most people are unwilling to pay the price for what they want. (Remember what the late Meles Zenawi told the One Ethiopia gang when they were whining about the loss of Eritrea: if you want to fight get Eritrea back ” mengedu cherq…” Very, very, very few people have that strength of character; That’s why you should have a “free Eskinder Negga” sticker with you.

      But seriously. I think Haile Menkerios is our own “Most Interesting Man in The World” except that his favorite drink is absolutely NOT Dos Equis 🙂 Picture this: Haile on a couch “I don’t always have dual citizenship but when I do, I go for South African, Western, Sudanese, Ethiopian… :)”


      • Eyob Medhane


        Yeah. I took your advice, went to the mirror, looked at myself and said ‘would I give up on a cause and a country that I wasted my way more than half of my adult life to South Africa?’ I said ‘nah’, ..

        A man as you said gave up on is Harvard education and US citizenship, seems to gave on his cause and went on a search to look for anybody, anyone to adapt him…..Hence, the ‘Principled’ ‘ghedli’ seem to go…’poooof’ when someone like him gave up on It… the saw is put away 🙂

        • Salyounis

          Hi Eyob:

          By your weird logic, if you, an Ethiopian, also have a second nationality, then it means you have turned your back on Ethiopia and went searching for “anybody, anyone” to adapt you? And if there are Ethiopians who have triple nationality then they are even further removed from Ethiopia? Haile Menkorios is, simply put, a very, very successful diplomat (one of the most successful Africa has produced if resume’s mean anything) and success always has people who want to adapt it. Remember the Kennedy quote: success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. This is how successful people get prestigious universities to give them honorary degrees.

          If you are still not getting it, here’s Einstein explaining things to you in simpler language:

          If my theory of relativity proves to be correct, Germany will claim me a German, and France will claim me a citizen of the world. However, if it proves wrong, France will say I’m a German, and Germany will say that I’m a jew.

          Anyway, we are a week away from our Independence Day and you might want to go easy on your snark for a while.


  • Saleh Gadi

    Selam Michael Tzerai,

    In your comment you wrote, “[Seyoum Haregot] died while in our ranks as an opposition.”

    This is news to me and I would like to know if Seyoum was in “our ranks as an opposition” meaning part of the opposition to the Isaias regime. Unless you mean another opposition, different to the commonly known Eritrean “opposition” forces.

    Would you please explain.

  • Tazabi

    I was surprised to see in this review, Seyoum Haragot served the Eritrean nationalist cause after the secession of Eritrea. I remember the statement of Seyoum before the enquiry commission setup to investigate officials of the emperror. There Seyoum as they say in Amharic “eynun bechew atbo” claimed he was appointed to a minitrail position because he was Eritrean apparently avoiding responsibilities for his role in the emperror’s government. May be his hatred of Berket comes from that – I do not know. I went to school some member of Haragot Abay’s family. Now they are ardent supporters of EPLF. Only in Eritrea do children pass identity to the fathers not the vice versa. Their parents believed they were Ethiopians and the children believe they are Eritreans. These people who have enjoyed the best Ethiopia has to offer in terms of power and privilege tell us now they were colonies of Ethiopia – what a sham

    The reviewer shows his disdain for Ethiopians when he implies Seyoum’s wanting to be an Ethiopian is wanting to be an Amhara.No one in Ethiopia took Seyoum to be an Amhara. Just the reviewer’s bias towards Ethiopian and Amharas.

    Even after 20 years Eritrean nationalists hate for Ethiopia have not abated. It seems hatred of Ethiopia is oranic to the cause

    • Robel

      It is sometimes disturbing to see some Eritreans going so low to denigrate Ethiopians, especially the Amhara, when in fact to a large extent they have been amongst the people who reaped the privileges Ethiopia had to offer. I can even argue as far as saying they were mover privileged than the very people they chastise, the Amrahas. They were sent to various universities to study at the expenses of the Ethiopian people, they were given immense freedom to practice their businesses and raise their families in different parts of Ethiopia. Before Eritrea’s independence, you could not avoid mentioning Eritreans if you were talking about Ethiopian scholars, business people, politicians and educators etc. Now how the heck does an oppressed society achieve that kind of status under a colonization? We don’t even have to look far, but just refer to how their “dear Italians” were treating them. An askari’s kid can study only up to 4th grader, not provided to the regular natives; natives were never to cross the streets of Combishtato to mix with the whites; except for some menial jobs, they were living in isolated areas in Asmara which is similar to apartheid system of S. Africa; they were not allowed to get a high ranking position with in the army, or any other government institutions. It is just astounding that Eritreans actually hate Ethiopians, when in fact they have always gotten a breathing space from Ethiopians up until this day.
      I don’t want to deny the fact that Ethiopian leadership was not always good to its people. But to try to portray Ethiopians governments as if they were trying to exterminate Eritreans is just outright preposterous. At least give us more convincing reasons as to why Eritrea needed to independent. The idea of Ethiopian colonization can only fool Eritreans, not any body else.

  • Zaul

    “IbrahimSultan contended that approximately 75 percent of all Eritreans were Muslims and that the remaining non-Muslim population, being a heterogeneous mix of predominantly Christian and animist sect with an equally diverse linguistic mixture, ‘shared no affinities to the Ethiopian people.’ In his defense of Eritrean autonomy, Sultan placed special focus on how any incorporation of Eritrea with Ethiopia would prove detrimental to Muslim inhabitants: having thus no ethnic, religious, historical, or economic bonds with Ethiopia, the Eritrean Muslims were strongly opposed to the annexation of Eritrea to Ethiopia.”

    Dr. Bereket Habte-Selassie (‘Conflict and Intervention in the Horn of Africa’)

    Great Compromise based on a lie?

  • Michael Tzerai


    Looks to me a vendetta against Seyoum rather than a book review. Where is the civility and respect of the just deceased. On Seyoum’s changing positions, how do you see people with high profile Gadafi supporters who fought tooth and nail to liquidate the popular insurrection, and at different stages change their positions and become partners and important players in the opposition? There is lots of that happening in present day Syria.

    Seyoum may have been less stellar on principles compared to Dr. Bereket. But he died while in our ranks as an opposition. For the opposition and intellectuals like you Semere, this attempt to create a second front enemy in the woyane in addition to fighting HGDEF is the most atrocious HGDEF ploy.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    20-22 yars ago it was unthinkable to critisize isaias or his followers. Leave alone eritreans in Eritrea even ethiopians in ethiopia couldnt critisize isaias infornt of tplf militias. (the derg red terror is not forgotten yet, so nobody makes a silly mistakes With governments who took Power by gun if they come from city or war Field).

    isaias has used the derg card efficiently. He emulated his followers that derg is ethiopia and ethiopia is derg. derg and shabia are from beginning to end were killing materials. Both can not live at the same time, from beginning. What they have done from 1974 to 1991 is history. Ya, both eritreans and ethiopians suffer. But using shabia as an excuse derg elongated its regime in 17 years and around 1million People were killed). It is not like woyane and shabia is telling us. (dragging us to the Cold war Field is the responsibility of derg, shabia and tplf. the elefants (the west and russia lost only their wealth while we lost almost all, we are not recover from it yet.)

    Comming back to 1993 if shabia was correcting history made by King Haile Silassie, why not the referundum was ‘federation’ or ‘unity’. Or if woyane and shabia decides then why not only declare independency and show the Power? If it is war whcih decides then shabia first must destroy Ethiopia before it creates the mini Ethiopia which is at its Exposition. And what shabia is doing. From the last 22 years experience i see only this.

    Shabia and woyane were agreed how Ethiopia vanishs among the different states. In the past shabians were the smartest so they convinced tplf that ethiopia must divided to its ethnic states while Eritrea keeps its integrity. There ethnicity is rediculus.

    But woyane changed its mind in 1998. Now woyane is like derg without the slogan one Ethiopia or Death. The funny thing shabia too is doing the same With its mini Ethiopia With the slogan hade libi hade hizbi.

    • Zaul

      “Comming back to 1993 if shabia was correcting history made by King Haile Silassie, why not the referundum was ‘federation’ or ‘unity’.”

      That’s a good point TamTam.

  • Hi, Semere
    reading through your critique with fairly tempered interest, I lost focus when I read your second “messela” that read: zeyHaffer dmu hailemariam semu. You are not supposed to change words in messela just like you don’t change any word in an idiomatic expression. It is …habtemariam semu. Since he would have a vested interest to replace that name, I was wondering If you learned it from your father.

  • TN Kidane

    Dear Semere,

    What I have for you is a couple of questions:
    What are your credentials to be a critique of books? What is/was your incentive to take the task of critiquing? Are you a hired hand? Who said one man’s story telling is the absolute truth? Do you know history depends on the pen of the author, yours included? It is only science that has universal truth. Be a man of science, not a critique of something out of nothing.

    • B Ali

      what credentials do you think a book reviewer to have beside common sense, and common sense?

  • Semere Habtemariam


    Earlier, I tried to respond to you while at work and, somehow, my laptop was not being nice to me. I was rudely interrupted and was not even aware that my comments made it to Awate. Anyhow, let me just share with you a verse from Tewahdo’s cannonized books (you will not find this in your usual bibles) and make my point that right should not be a slave to might:

    Let our might be the yardstick of right,
    since weakness argues its own futility.

    MesHafe Tbeb Solomon (Wisdom of Solomon 2:10-11)

  • TiETiE( Shiro bubble)

    ArBaEte Asmera
    they were a group of village chiefs, priests. Debre Bizen founder Abune Filipos was part of them. He Abune Filipos was half tigray and half Kohayn. Orignally the ArBaEte Asmera were from three locations grouped about 850-900 years ago at hill of today’s AKrya.
    1. Tembien Empire – central tigray.
    2. Adi ArbaEte and AnKere BaruKa – about 3km of from the mereb river in tigray.
    3. KoHayn, Ketina, Kuhli ZbE, Golbo villages – the fertile land of mereb river in Eritrea.

    • Semere Habtemariam


      Somehow, call it accident, I’ve become a semi-expert on the history of the Tewahdo Church and by extension Eritrean and Ethiopian history. Abuna Paulos was one of the prominent groups generally known as deqi-Ewostatewos. My understanding is that both Abbas Ewostatewos and Pualos are, by today’s classification, from Tigray.

      Abba Paulos could not be one of the founders of Arbate Asmera because Asmera preceded his birth. Like his spiritual father, abba Ewsotatewos, he was a freqeunt visitor to Asmera, but, if you were somebody at the time, the chance that you would visit Asmera was pretty high. It was a really important trade center.

      Saying that, I’m very interested in learning more about your source. Perhaps, my reading of the whole thing is completely wrong.

      • TiETiE( Shiro bubble)

        You did great work. your account is right.
        Abune Paulos was not founder of ArbaEte asmera. He was aware of ArbaEte asmera since his monastery visitors were the villages of ArbaEte asmera. though he came up the same time about 800 – 900 years ago from AnKeRe BaruKa. His blood family still living in KoHayn a village named KuHli ZbE. He was half tigray and half from KuHli ZbE village.
        His politics and the politics of the ArbaEte asmerans were different.
        Expect that there will be minor differences.

        • Semere Habtemariam


          I would like to talk to you more on this. If I can verify the information that Abba Paulos is half-QoHayn, I would like to include that in my next book before it goes to press. Would you please contact me via my email: I would also talk to some people I know from QoHayn and vicinity and see if they could collaborate your version. This is good stuff and thank you.

  • Beyene

    Selam Semere,
    As usual, you are a very good writer. I already ordered the book at Amazon and the delivery date will be between Jun 3 to 13th of july. It seems that you got it straight from the printing machine.
    What you wrote about Hiruy and Sium Haregot is all true – Sium returned to Ethiopia after accomplishing his studies but Hiruy didn’t. But I don’t think it’s right to put both in a comparison as they took place at different times. Besides,at the time when Sium Haregot returned to Ethiopia in 1957 or later, his father Haregot was still in power, whereas Tedla Bairu was no more in power, when Hiruy refused to return to Ethiopia.

  • abraham

    Hi semere,

    I didn’t get the chance to read the book. But i have read your book review with deep interest. And i wish to read the book as soon as i get the chance.

    Here are my points:

    1. The difference between seyoum and bereket is painted by your lack of objectivity plus some degenerating remark on the part of seyoum with regards to Berket (according to your quotes). Both have served Ethiopia and Isayas. Both were highly educated people too. I don’t see any difference between them except that their latter activities differ (according to you bereket has become an activist but seyoum was government apologist). But i for one believe that regardless of a political stand, one should be weighed by how much he has accomplished in his life.

    2. Dont you think we all went to different directions for self serving reasons. Have you ever weighed your own life the way you have just weighed seyoum’s? Why did u go to America? Is it because you can best serve Eritreans or to serve your own interest? the only difference between yourself and the man you obliterated in ur article is that he did the self serving activities in a much more profound way. He was an Ethiopian minister for god’s sake. And he studied in Harvard. That is an achievement that no sane person should try to down play. You criticized him for being an ethiopian – an identity which has many similarities with eritrean identity – while you and many other eritreans were going after an identity as alien as the word itself. How would an Eritrean who went a long and hard way to become a nameless and faceless american can talk about an eritrean who became not only an ethiopian but also a minister of some sort. It is rather sad that a man of your caliber couldn’t see the possibility that your original identity wouldn’t change even if u wished to become an american, european, ethiopian, sudanese or somali for that matter. There is no contradiction there. He chose to become Ethiopian but his Eritrean origin would still be inside his heart. Just like ur self. If you see contradiction in his life and the situation in the horn of Africa, you shd see also th contradictions in your life too. But as i mentioned above while seyoum and bereket were somebodies in the horn of Africa… well you know what you are in comparison (no disrespect)! As you try to beat another person, I am afraid that you have beaten urself even much harder!

    3. These andnet and neo andnet thing you are talking about is really becoming a cover for your ultra nationalistic views. While I dont see any fault in you guys being nationalist (albeit deserting nationalists), it is very annoying to see that you think everyone has to be like you to be called eritrean too. Eventhough those u named neo andnets are much more saner than you are and have a greater knowledge of what is happening in Eritrea (atleast better than you guys) you have refused to acknowledge they are too eritreans and love their country even much better than you claim to do. The only difference is that they have opened their eyes wide while yours are wide shut.

    But for the sake of argument, if some eritrean to be openely andnet supporters and if they think being with ethiopia is the only solution to eritrea’s predicament, you could do nothing to minimise their eritrean identity. It is just by sheer luck or misfortune, they are born in the country called eritrea and regardless of their beliefs, they are still eritreans and you could do nothing to change that fact. And if the number of those people increases in any future time, i would only hope that there is no war to reverse the netsanet to andnet. I for one, an eritrean by origin, wouldnt want to see people die to change the present status quo.

    Eritrea is now a free country. full stop. Even the ardent neo andneties, Ethiopian themselves, has learned to live with that fact. So relax and learn to read other people’s opinions and appreciate them without panic. Your panic is creating rift among eritreans. Whatever our views are we all want peace for Eritreans and all who live in the horn of Africa. Come up with plausible solutions how we all achieve that with minimum human and material cost instead of belittling another person’s effort of doing so.

  • F.M.

    Is this a review and critic of the book or the person ?
    The title (Seyoum Haregot’s New Book….) leads one to think the writer is concerned with criticising the person not necessary the book.

  • Ato Semere,
    You seem not to understand neither history or the the future of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Historically and their geographical vicinity they have intermarried blue and otherwise and if we check their DNA they have a lot in common, and like the Nazi pure race theory your ‘majority, however, have categorically rejected the Ethiopian identity and these are the heroes who fought the liberation struggle’ and now are either licking the ass of Issyas, refugee in other countries including in Ethiopia, imprisoned in dungeons or killed by the liberator Shaibiya. Look my friend, today people like you instead of serving for the remedy of Eritrean people, you are still in a mental dungeon of Issayas and exaggerating with the empty word of Gedli. You should start to think: what will happen with Eritrea after Issayas. Notwithstanding its independence, Eritrea should start to think where its economical benefits are? What can Eritrea can economically offer and which countries are the best to give her the return. What are the possibilities of being integrated in the sub or more regional economic units? Instead of thinking & analyzing the said book within the coming economical possibilities context, your analysis rolls in an outdated or failed repetition. The Eritrean people, especially the youth is no more receptive to the defunct ritual.

  • Abo

    Because the whole story of Eritrea being an independent country is fake, which is only meant to be a proxy state for the likes of Egypt and Saudi. It isn’t a surprise that the brainwashing and hate campaign against Ethiopia works to this day as so much investment was actually made to make people like the writer of the review the way they are today. For those of us who know for sure that the Africa will be one within a generation and eventually the world in few generations time, we really empathise for your pointless exercise.

  • Almaz

    Well written, but it reads all over it, the critiques is handed to you or atleast shared one on one most of it from our good old nothing but a trouble individual called Dr Bereket Habtesellassie. You even have guts to say anything about the members of the Eritreans constitution folks. Amazed

  • bn- erytrea

    Nice review from semere.
    I always thought Haregot Abay was a rascal and a bigot. was he really loved by asmarinas and eriytreans at large ? what was his contribuation towards the greater dream (free eritrea) and why was he killed 1974 ? was not he serving the ethiopian occupation force ?

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    I wish it is only four years since eplf and tplf took Power and all the discussions which is going now on cyber is done at home/s in universities, military halls, in the cities, Schools, police acadamies, Parliaments, kebeles, under the trees,Mosques, Churchs, etc with out any killings or torture or being terrorized. I sound ideal. But arent the majority of us trying to do that to materalize? If what ever we say is harmfull to the society then we get repremand from the society as usuall but not this anti terror Law or helicopter style torture.

    But now is 22 years since. We have learnt to tolertate the worst. We learn the tolerance not in overnight. It has taken off course 22 years. We have learnt to ‘escape’ the crime seen. We can not let it go we have witnessed and the crime is continues. We can not stop it we are too far too powerless. The dictators became more and more agressive and smart in dismantling any form of organizing and we also to save ourselves and the Close ones.

    It is more alarming when is hippy about pfdj festivals, asmarino is hippy about amnesty and goes back to Haile silassie. From many years of experience these are not good signs. This means isayas’ grip is stronger relativt. Pfdj and isayas are in their weakest form but the majority eritreans are more weaker than pfdj’s People. Besides the oppositions are taugher to show thier muscel to the other oppositon gropus than the pfdj. (imagine pfdj People enjoy life With full confidence in the west even though majority of them come to the west by using the story of the mass who suffer by them selves. this much has gone the tloerance and weakness of the oppositions. A muslim pfdj is better than an orthodox oppositioner or an orthodox pfdj is better than a muslim oppositioner) This means that all national and internaitonl isayas oppositions are doing nothing. This means isaias is having time to gather his Power and come up With more disasterous surprise to eritreans and the world. Isayas seas himself as a leader of all nations who oppose the current world order.

  • TiETiE( Shiro bubble)

    I do not blame the AnDneT men that they weighed into etiopianism that they were very confused people influenced by many reasons. The AraBiTa men had concrete stance that by all means they refused Ethiopia because they knew Eritrean would not be treated well under the NguS Haileslasie overall their religion also the reason. For the Christians it was very very difficult choice – fear of muslim( that was not real when we see it now but helped hailesalsie win the situation by sewing confusion and corruption among the two group of people – muslims and christians). power, wanting fame, religion, money, some did not knew for later times but they heard good sounding from the Ngus agents even the NguS himself played YeWaHaT mind.
    haileslasie played as BruK – at one time he stepped out of his car to pay respect when he saw a young villager wed and were crossing main highway, walking behind his bride with his village team and the wedding crew. People called haieslasie EzoM BruK NguS( especially the central region people liked haileslasie and called him EzoM BruK however they turned against him in the early 1970s).
    Another time haileslasie landed suddenly in remote village and heavy AZmeRa rain showered the area.again he got EzoM BruK. I believe such things corrupted the central region Christians.
    the tactics haileslasie used were very strong. If that system continued at Zemene DerG Eritrea may not got its today or at least it would be some MODIFIED form of Andnet.
    I believe the Drunken attitude of Mengistu hailemariam perhaps shaped the fate of Eritrea today I mean what do you think if Mengstu used the same tactic as haileslasie used?.
    At one time gimmy carter regretted for letting mengstu bloom into regional madness.Perhaps mengstu and his army would not melt on the low lands of Eritrea and things would not stirred. Mnegstu boasted – TefeTro BeKuT’TraCHn Sr EnaWlaLeN. No one controls nature except God.

  • B Ali

    This is what I call an active review, well done Semere.

  • Kim hanna

    Mr. Semere,

    Thank you for the info. to order the book, that is the only useful line in the whole page. Thanks again.


  • Salyounis

    Selamat Sem:

    Whoa! Very well done, friend. A few random questions, comments and observations:

    1. The scandalous cat (zeyHafer dmu) of legend: is his name Gebremariam or Habtemariam or is the name choice geo-specific?

    2. In their “review” of Dr. Bereket’s memoirs, Batman and Robin (Asaminew Ewnetun and Aradom Fedai Haqi)reference a “forthcoming memoir”– were they referring to Dr. Seyoum Haregot’s book?

    3. Regarding Ethiopian foreign policy and lessons we should learn from it, you say that “‘adhering to principles’ and ‘doing the right thing’ meant nothing to Ethiopia; the only game it was interested in was winning…” How is this different from the foreign policy of any other country in the world and why is it a lesson? The thing (one of many) that astounds me about the Eritrean regime, and its fans, is that they actually think “Yigermena alo” is not just a catchy tune with deep lyrics but a national foreign policy. Let’s be clear: “yigermena alo” means “we are amazed.” Astounded. Confused. We don’t know what to do next. That’s our foreign policy which explains why our position regarding Ethiopia and the world’s decision to refuse to “do the right thang” (only happens in Spike Lee movies) is just to shake our head in amazement.

    4. Many authors (including American Ethiophiles) say that in his late years Haile Selasse was not in a position to make decisions because senility had set in. He could not even recognize some of his cabinet members–asking his advisors “who is that guy?” (referring to Saleh Hinit, I think.)

    5. Aklilu Habtewold had proposed an ingenious idea. Haile Selasse was opposed to the federated status of Eritrea because it would be a bad example to other provinces: it was an affront to his majesty and that’s why he pushed hard for its annexation. Aklilu proposed that instead of annexing Eritrea, Haile Selasse should create a federal arrangement with the other provinces thereby reducing Eritrea to yet another Ethiopian province (with deals identical to other Ethiopian provinces) without violating the UN’s mandate. Haile Selasse didn’t listen, of course. But Meles Zenawi was taking copious notes and created a Federal arrangement where, in theory any Ethiopian kilil could exercise “self-determination up to and including secession” (There is an invisible little asterisk in the Ethiopian constitution that says that this right can only be exercised by Ethiopian kilils bordering Eritrea but NOT Sudan or Somalia:)))

    6. Finally, you said:

    The original “andnet”, although understandable, was wrong, but the new born-again “andenetism” is annoyingly stupid. The latter-day andnet are the intellectual “Rashaida and Bedouin thugs” who are trying to exploit us in our moment of weakness and despair. But these momentary headaches can be tolerated for the greater good of freedom of expression.

    I think the original andnet was more than understandable and, as a student of the “history and faith of the Tewahdo Church of Ethiopia and Eritrea”, I think you will agree with me that the position the Andnet Party took in the 1940s was the most logical and rational when it comes to protecting the values and interests of its constituency. This is because its position was taken BEFORE the Federal Act, BEFORE the Parliament was convened, BEFORE the Great Compromise between and among Eritrea’s diverse constituency, and BEFORE a 30 year war. On the other hand, the position of the Neo-Andnet is NOT a momentary-headache: it is an effort to undo the Great Compromise and to replace patriotism (Ghedli) with supra-nationalism (Habeshaism). It is more serious than a headache or even a migraine: it is a tumor.


    • Semere Habtemariam


      Thanks bro.

      5. As I mentioned in my article, it is very hard not to like Aklilu Habtewold and the book does a good job of telling how he was in favor of maintaining the federal status of Eritrea and using it as a model for the rest of Ethiopia. His idea of federation, however is completely different from that of the EPRDF. The former institutionalizes differences, not leaving much room for development of organic national unity. The EPRDF is the extreme opposite of the HaileSelassi regime where the latter wants to eliminate all differences and create an artifical national union that was pretty much Amhara. In my opinion, the solution for Ethiopia lies somewhere in between. The EPRDF have gone a bit in the extreme in response to the historical injustice the Tigrayans suffered under successive Amhara regimes.

      4. Yes, indeed. Aklilu Habtewold had said that to HaileSelassie. You need to get a copy of the book. It is worth your time. Just ignore the part about the unrepentant Eritrean who wants to have it both ways. You see, I can respect people like Bereket Simon who are comfortable in their own skin of being Ethiopians of Eritrean ancestry.

      2. Nations should know that adhering to principles is in their best interest. If the Ethiopians are not willing and ready to adhere to legal conflict resolutions, then, we would have another 30 years of war with us and with others and I can gurantee you, we might not have the power to defeat them, but we have all the power to incur

      • Selam Semere,

        First let me tell you my take on your critique.Though my understanding on Seyoum Harregot vis a vis Eritrean independence is the same as yours, your critique sounds more to the person than to the book. So it is out of bound “of fairness.”

        Second your comment made me to jump and question you about the comparison of Aklilu Habteweld’s model of federalism for the rest of Ethiopia with that of the current model of federalism in Ethiopia. For sure there is no detail with its specificty about the model of federalism, Aklilu Habtewold had in mind at that time. Of course he had talked in general about federalism as an exit strategy to the social contradiction of Ethiopia. So my question to you is how did you come what kind of model of federalism Aklilu had in mind? If you have the info the kind of structure of federalism he envisioned at that time, could you please could cite the source of your information? Otherwise it will only be hypothetical perception.

        Third how did you come to characterize the current federalism in Ethiopia as “artificial national union”? If the people of Ethiopia are satisfied with the current structure and believe that this structure is the only federal structure that hold the unity of their nation, does it matter whether semere see it as artificial union? Every country can device a kind of government that satisfy its community. Hence why is so important to Eritreans as to what kind of government the Ethiopian people should have? Don’t we have our own mess…a country without constitution and rule of law? a government that devours its own people? Can’t we focus to our problem rather than to our neighbor countries? Can we fight to take up the mantle of public service from the evil man at the helm? I hope you will not utter the usual tic “neo-andnet”? what I see it as “political profanity” in Eritrean political discourse.

        with respect,

    • Belay

      Neo-Andent caused headache amongest you till you feel you head spinning.That is what is happening to Semere Tesfay when he started writing this critic but drifted in to spewing hatred and bashing.The Eritrean construct is an unhelpfull senario,dear Amarere Tesfay!

      • Salyounis

        Selamat “Belay”

        1. You have confused Semere Habtemariam with Semere Tesfay, two Awate writers with distinct voices and styles.
        2. You have, so far, used the following names:
        And because you, 1 person, are misrepresenting yourself as 9 individuals, you have confused yourself and others into thinking that the fringe view of the Neo Andnet is the mainstream view. Dreams are free; misrepresentation has a price. Stick to a name, just one, we don’t care which, then we can debate you–assuming you have anything of substance to say.


        • Belay

          You got it wrong,dear! I never even commented before this one! This is my first!

        • abraham

          Dear Saleh,

          I dont think you are only being silly. I think u are abusing ur information advantage to bully and subjugate ur detractors. I dont know about belay, bekele and the other names u have listed. But from what I have noticed just now (adding my name to ur list of names above), when you were talking about people using different aliases, you were fooling all of us. May be this is an exercise u guys use to get the upper-hand in any debate. By telling ur audience that all of ur detractors are just one person in different names, you might have convinced many readers that ur detractors idea has never had many followers or advocates. So by contrast u wanted to look advocates of a giant idea which everybody agrees upon while because the other idea has no followers, the only follower or advocate had to change his names just to make his idea seems popular. That is one hell of strategy, but when u use it often, you will awake people like me who were fooled before. I didnt know that u awatistas are capable of this ugly strategy (misinforming ur reading public).

  • Eyob Medhane

    “…………A significant part of them have learned to straddle between Eritrean and Ethiopian identities while firmly rooting themselves in the former. …………………
    A few, however, enthusiastically embraced an Ethiopian and an Amhara identity and marrying an Amhara with a “blue blood” was presumably the down-payment they had to make in order to gain an access to the corridors and climb the echelons of power. …….”

    You know I had mention about a great woman of Ethiopian of Eritrean ancestors, Gen. Aman Andom’s sister Emama Tsion Andom, and Saleh Gadi, sort of scorned me, because I made an example out of her. What he failed to mention to me, however was that she was “..straddling between Eritrean and Ethiopian identities, while firmly rooting on the former..” or she is ..”..enthusiastically embraced being an Ethiopian and an Amhara with blue blood…” and that was her “down payment” for her and her brother success. ..

    Can you understand how disgustingly contemptible what you said is? Can you understand starting from Seyoum Haregot, you insulted and denigrated a great deal number of people and their ancestors? I shouldn’t be surprised. It is people like you Isayas Afeworki plays like a fiddle to rule your people over. You prefer contempt and hatred and denigrating Ethiopia and Ethiopian, while you watch Isayas drive your entire nation over cliff. Of course he is preferable, because he tickles your sense to hate Ethiopians anything connected to it. Especially, if one has a sense to say that “keep your fake identity to yourself” and that person happens to have Eritrean blood, your hatered of him get ignited even more furiously at him. That’s what you showed on the above quote. How pathetic !!!!!!!

    • Tazabi

      When do Eritreans stop denigrating Ethiopia. This reviewer equates being Ethiopian with being Amhara. What about the rest of us Ethiopians who are not Amharas. There is no one iota of good will from Eritrean nationalists to Ethiopia be it they are pro EPLF or anti EPLF. It is revealing

    • Salyounis

      Brother Eyob:

      We have to do something about you posting when your sugar level is low:)

      If there are Eritreans who hate Ethiopians, our friend Semere is NOT one of them. I say “if there are Eritreans who hate Ethiopians” because even the haters you are thinking of are using lazy labeling (Tigrayan rulers + Amhara rulers = Tigrayans + Amhara = Ethiopia) for their hate. Ethiopia has a population of 85 million: it is irrational to say “I hate Ethiopians” unless one has met every single one of the 85 million. But then most hate is irrational.

      What we are talking about is identity and which one you consider the highest in your hierarchy of identities. For example, Eyob is an Ethiopian, of Eritrean ancestry, and he is an American of African ancestry. He is male, a professional and he is youth (or youthful.) Now, of all those identities, you have chosen (I presume, judging by how emotional you get about it) your Ethiopian identity as the one you are most proud of. That is your choice. Similarly, there are Eritreans–even Eritreans of Ethiopian ancestry–who have chosen that their Eritrean identity is the one that they are most proud of. Just accept it: don’t ask “why?”, don’t call it a “fake identity”; don’t say, “it must be the Italian influence”; don’t say “the Arabs confused them”, etc. Live and let live. Then you won’t write things that require 7 exclamation points:)


      • Eyob Medhane

        Sal, too late 🙂

        Abu Saleh already has calm me down:-) My beef is Semere’s implication that an Ethiopian of Eritrean ancestry feels Ethiopian only to climb up the social ladder in Ethiopian society or always feels Eritrean at heart. That is a total BS, offensive, arrogant and border line fascistic that insults and denegrete thousands of people who have Eritrean ancestry of Ethiopians, who have absolutly no connection with Eritrea and the mythical ‘ghedly’ teret teret. That is what I feel, and I am sticking to it… 🙂

        • Salyounis

          Selamat Eyob:

          I underestimate your love for going out on a limb…with a saw.

          As for “ghedly teret teret”…in Eritrea, what you call teret we actually spell “tarikh”. Like this one:

          By the way, you keep calling Saleh “Abu Saleh.” He is too polite to correct you, but here’s a tutorial:

          Some (Muslim) names have a corresponding “Abu” named after a famous religious figure:

          Saleh = Abu Selah (not Saleh, but Selah)
          Ibrahim = Abu Khelil
          Osman = Abu Affan

          Now to complicate it further, you can also use “Abu…” if you know the eldest son of the person you are addressing. In the case of Saleh, his son is named “Adal”: yep, the same one as that famous hill (“tarik alewo iti gobo”) in Eritrea that spawned the “teret teret” So you can call him “Abu Selah” or “Abu Adal.” Or, you can just simplify things for yourself and call him Saleh. Go easy on that saw, now.


          • Eyob Medhane

            Really Sal?

            Is that all you picked up from what I said ‘Abu Saleh’?..Tsk tsk tsk..Fine. Then I will switch to ‘Gash Saleh’. His politness to correct me is really great. So Habesha like, don’t you think? 🙂

  • L.T

    Sure he was well educited person becouse he come from well known family and his served to tow regim is a secert one to me.Haile Sillasie sent him to pakistain in 1969 to get rid three tegadelti to Ethiopia.
    His father killed in 1978 by Dergue and he was jail upto 1982 in ethiopia.Ethiopia is our rival enamay and i wonder always why we should trust even to Weyane.

  • Thomas Tewelde

    You know I’m not fond of you but on this one I have to give you thumbs up. I think you did your homework it is well written entertaining and educational good job.

  • TsTe

    Dear Semere,
    from what I know it’s not in our tradition to bash the dead, but you in your critiique, that’s all you did. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Seyom, but he deserves the right to his opinions as wrong as you might think they are. This irrational Eritreanism, full of arrogance and superiority is what brought us down in the first place. Look inside your own beloved country and leave the Ethiopians alone, they are much better off than us.We have a lot of bigger issues to deal right now than constantly pointing at our neighbors.
    You are funny, after putting the late Seyom and his beliefs down, you posted a link on where to buy the book…how nice of you. Too bad, he can’t write a rebuttal to your critique.

    • Aba_chegora

      I fully agree with your writing.The irrationality is what is still keeping us down. It is however very amuzing and amazing when the irrationality is coming from the very people who claim to fight against the injustice in Eritrea.

  • Daniel Teclegiorgis

    Dear Semere: Your artistic skill in writing is great.I have to admire you speed in reading as well. This is a new book. Isn’t it?
    But your perspective view of history still confuses me more. Not easy to get its focal point and don’t know why experts of Eritrean politics prefer to write books and comments anal-zing Ethiopian politics to such a depth.

    Any way given your style of analysis, I wish to read your similar input to a book by Huruy Tedla Bayru about the functions of the first and the only constitutional Eritrean government under his father’s leadership.
    He might need an alarm clock to wake him up before it is too late though!

    • Semre Habtemariam

      Selam Daniel,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Most of the books written by Eritreans are about Eritrea. People write about what is dear to them. Seyoum wrote on what is dear to him and I’m only giving a critique for the benefit of our readers and to encourage them to read. Understanding Ethiopia would help us understand Eritrea , but, more importantly, the Horn of Africa.

      Tell aya Herui to send me a copy and will love to review his book, or even better, tell us how we can purchase the book. I’m sure, I’m not the only one who would be interested in reading what Herui has to say; the man is as smart as they come. I’ve the privelege of meeting him twice and enjoyed listening to him speak effortlessly on almost every subject under the sun.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    Hi Semere!
    This is typical shabias propaganda what you are doing! You try to frame the King to the natural Development how nations are formed or disintegreted and before you know it Your subconcious takes over and you blame it on all Ethiopians (Ethiopia).

    This is a typical shabians agenda because what ever eritreans going through the important thing is to rmind them that the union between eritreans and ethiopians is the worrest thing which can happen to eritreans than what they are experiencing now or wors in general. In particular as shabians the altimetum must be not to make any kind of religious or political relation between the two tigirans, the two kunamas, the two afars.

    I have no doubt about starting With amhara and hitting Ethiopia between the eyes is typical shabians. Starting With Haile Silassie and mixing the oil and the water together and propagate meles, isayas and Haile are the same. But what you are short of mentioning is that for good or bad if one follows Your book unlisis then the tagadalit legasi has contiuded by the most decorated general of theirs called isayas.

    What you telling us what Eritrea has been doing the New nation building can do all possible Things while the others must Close their eys and pray for the best. (even praying in Public is not allowed in Your system). If any one opposes be it eritreans unionist or separetist (those who want free from Eritrea), then they are mixed and pounded to look like amharas Ethiopia.