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Talking Mountains, Thanking Eagles, And lyrics

There are mountains that talk, eagles that thank, and lyrics that speak to non-humans.  And I still remember where I was and what I was doing, when for the time I heard someone talking to an eagle and the eagle responding. Wedi Ghebru was singing, “Abba-Gunbah Berekha ab Homib entay re’ikha…” I did not know what Abba-Gunbah Berekha meant, so I asked and I was told it meant an eagle. The singer was interviewing the eagle, asking him what he saw (I presume after the civil war), pleading with him to tell it all. The eagle responded with excruciating detail about the dead and the maimed, about the dying and the suffering all over, as the song roamed in the Eritrean wilderness.

Much later, I attended a concert by the EPLF central cultural troupe and Zainab Beshir sang the “Eagle Of The Sky”, where she too, asked the thrilled and thankful eagle, who was thankful to the youth for killing so many mercenary soldiers, who was pleased to obtain his food in his sleep: (Hobay ferha itaaba, dib mikraaru sigyaatu rekba): Here are some parts of the lines translated into English:

The eagle of the sky you are in space
The eagle of the sky you are flying
Share with us what you saw
Cadavers laying underneath you

I will tell you what I saw
I went down to vast Barka
I found the bodies of soldiers
I owe you and I thanked the youth
After a week I went down to Sahel
I took a meal from the gardens
As I asked the villagers
Of what was going on
I found the corpses on my arrival
Without a goal they enlist devoid of a cause
It is in Eritrea where they get wounded
We saw the mercenary army escaping
The bankrupt army glanced towards Nakfa
When we caught up with them, they surrendered
The eagle of the sky was thrilled
He was not tired
For he found his food without lifting a finger

In the same concert, the singer Alganesh sang, Asmara, Asmara, and the eagle was once again asked; in this case in a more cheerful, less melancholic and less morbid manner. The eagle was asked to pass best regards to her beloved Asmara.

If you the merchant, happen to pass through Asmara
If you the passerby, happen to detour to Asmara
If you the eagle of Sahel, happen to fly over Asmara
Please say hello to my Asmara
Until I return and visit it myself…

Before all of them, immediately after Nakfa was liberated by EPLF in 1979, Wedi Tukul interviewed Mout Denden in a song by the same title.

Are you mount Denden?
Did you hear what Dergi was thinking?
Whatever happened to those plans?

Are you mount Dende
Did you hear what Dergi the jerk was thinking?
Whatever happened to those plans?

I, mount Denden
I have things I saw
What I saw was an attempt occupy me
With their foreign experts
Their eyes brightened to impose their plans
With Napalm they shredded the leaves of my trees
I, Mount Denden I have martyred comrades
With whom I have a covenant from early on
They fought hard so the a wolf would not prey on me
Only to them I owe deference
Soviet made tanks that throw bombs
I am not afraid from the plains, nor form the hills nor from the mountains.
War plane in the sky
That drop Napalm
All foiled by the strong will.

But what Wedi Tukul said about Mount Denden was even stranger than the lyrics that talked to it, when he was asked about the story behind the lyrics and its inspiration, he made it sound as if Denden has a life of its own, as if it can deliberately exude strong will and resilience. Here is what he said when responding to what inspired the writing of the song.

“Mount Denden is a mountain that encircles the entire trenches around Nakfa, a mountain that was unflinching in the face of Soviet backed offensives, a huge mountain that declared woe to those who tried to approach Nakfa. Mount Denden is still standing tall in its place, with its unbending tenacity, a mountain that defiantly sided with the heroes.”

In high school I saw a play by the EPLF cultural troupe called “Keyah Mendiley”, my Red Handkerchief. In it, a dashing, charming and a highly educated Eritrean man was ill and so he walked into a clinic, when the nurse in duty asked him what his profession was, he responded that he holds a degree in Law and Justice from an Italian university. It was love at first sight. But the lawyer soon joined the freedom fighters. His lover was devastated. Undaunted, she wrote a love letter and since it was impossible to easily send it to the field, the lover devised an ingenious delivery mechanism: she entrusted it to the wind. She first had some moving conversation with the wind, “Haderakha, Niffas berekha…”

The wind did not disappoint the heartbroken lover and delivered the love letter entrusted to it to somewhere in Sahel. When a group of freedom fighters saw an envelope swirling towards them by the wind, they grabbed it. Surprised, they told each other that this letter is addressed to one of our comrades and delivered it to him.

But before some take this piece the wrong way; as an assault to freedom fighters who authored the above lyrics and play, let me mention a cultural lyrics that we are all familiar with: the strange lyrics of ”Esseliye Ho…” played in every Tigringa wedding.

Esselye ho, esselliye, esselye
Esselye ho, Nebokha misselye
Asha diyye ab mai zaasil

I have been fascinated by this lyrics for as long as I first heard it. I am still mesmerized by its origin, genesis, history, meaning, and allusion. Over the years; I had several explanations for its meaning, the most famous among my friends was this: the groom is the king of the day and since the word “essel” (to sworm) in Tigriniga is usually used for bees as in “nhbi assilu”, so I pontificated that the song is symbolic to the groom’s throne, the loved ones are both celebrating the temporal throne and pre-celebrating the product of the union, the honey, the future children. But my teenage friends would point to a different story. They allege that they remember the exact start of my fascination with “esseliye”, they remind me of the student picnic we went to in grade eleven.

During the trip back home, the bus broke down, as the hired driver and his assistant repaired the bus in the roadside, dusk fell.  We joked and played, some sang their favorite songs, and some danced. A classmate spontaneously stared to sing “esselye” and some one pulled my girlfriend and danced with her in a mock “esselye ho”. We had fun, we laughed, the bus was repaired and we went home in one piece. Lo and behold, three weeks later, some one, much older, much, much  richer, more educated, I also think in law from Europe asked the hand of the that girl. She was soon married away. That is the theory that some of my friends use to explain the start of my fascination about “esselye” and its power of premonition.  I, of course vehemently disagree.

I would like to ask our artists who play in weddings to follow the footsteps of the late Poet Dr. Russom Haile, who wrote his “allewuna, allenwana” poem to speak to both genders. I would like to ask the singers to also include/alternate the following lyrics the next time they sing “Esselye ho” in recognition of our women.

Eseli ho, eseli, eseli
Eseli ho,  nedekhi mseli
Bosoro diyye ab mai zaasil
Esseli ho, esseli, esseli
Esseli ho,  nedekhi mseli.

About Semere Andom

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  • Solomon Haile

    Selamat General,
    Nice! I enjoyed reading your treat of Maple Syrup.
    One problem when speaking to ladies and repeatedly sounding “Ho”. “Eseli Ho, Eseli Ho.” The premonition and your girlfriend married of to a rich man. Ain’t that a … 🙂 no spoiler but since it is Saturday Tecle “Hooket” song of
    “fQri zeHlefkum seb iski ngerunni
    meEinti kikhiElo…”
    Where is that young lady now? I am wondering.

  • ‘Gheteb

    Hobay’s Shabab Ain’t The Literal Youth And The Multifarious Forms Of “ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ”

    Selam All,

    The postlapsarian Semere Andom, ” the child of Ontario water”, is telling us that “there are mountains that talk”. Well, I will take it a bit further and say this: literally all mountains in Eritrea have been talking; disgorging from their bellies all that they have witnessed. However, this doesn’t mean that all Eritreans can hear the Eritrean mountains talking.

    Some are deaf; others pretend that they don’t hear the Eritrean mountains talking; some have deliberately put ear plugs and there are those who don’t believe that the Eritrean mountains are capable of talking.

    Well, you may ask who are in the latter category, viz., those who don’t believe that the Eritrean mountains are capable of talking. Wonder no more! Here he is in his own words Semere Andom, ” the child of Ontario water” (ሰመረ ዓንዶም “ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ” )


    Semere Andom > ‘Gheteb • 8 days ago

    Hi Gheteb:
    ” Cry Me A River, But Eritrea Nevermore To Knock On Ethiopia’s Door ”
    That is smarmy, empty, PFDJ inspired denial and arrogance. If your definition of Eritrea is the rivers that “cry”, the rocks that burn, and mountains that are called “awtaden” in the Noble Qurran, they will never do that because they cannot, they are non-living things.


    Did you catch “ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ” ‘s rationale as to why he believes that the Eritrean mountains don’t talk? Yes, in his own word ” they are non-living things”. In less than a week, here he is translating lyrics of those who have exquisitely captured mount Denden’s (እምባ ደንደን) talk. Now any sensible person would want to know why such an incredibly remarkable volte face in less than a week.

    One can hazard an educated guess here. It can be that when “ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ” is in the state of frenzy in aiding and abetting the Ghedli basher and denier extraordinaire, Hayat Adem, that he becomes utterly untethered from reality so much so that Eritrea is part of Ethiopia or he wished he was born in Tigray province or he would join a women’s organization.

    However, in solitude when sanity reigns supreme and when those linguistic urges gotta be quenched ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ metamorphoses to ወዲ ማይ ላባ and goes on an overdrive concatenating sentences that he translates from Tigrigna/ Tigrait to English. In the latter from as ወዲ ማይ ላባ, Semere Andom evinces all the attributes of the quintessential Eritrean, while in the former state as ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ, he manifests all the characteristics of the apotheosis of ‘the anti-Eritrean Eritrean person’.

    Quite often Semere Andom, also, takes the form of ወዲ ማይ ኒል ( the child of Nile water) so readily from the ወዲ ማይ ላባ form, yet again confirming that he is, like the majority of Eritreans, the descendant of King Meroni (ንጉስ ሜሮኒ) of the Sudan, although in his wishes to affirm his bond with the Abyssinians he erroneously claims that he is a Habesha (ሓበሻ) through and through.

    If a female Forumer of this website posts a comment, he is unfailingly the first person to respond or the first person to defend the female Forumer if her comment elicited a negative or a challenging response. This means that he changes from the ‘child of Laba water’ to the ‘child of Ontario water’ instantaneously and he drops his translation task in a middle of a sentence.

    Such being his defense of the feminine gender, it only goes as far as the door steps of PFDJ. Those females who are deemed to be supporters of PFDJ will be at the receiving end of the most denigrating insults, demeaning aspersions. His remarks about the PFDJ female supporters comes across as if they are bereft of the feminine attributes that he so ebulliently writes about.

    Now Semere Andom is misquoting Hobay even in his states as ወዲ ማይ ኒል and ወዲ ማይ ላባ. No Hobay wasn’t thanking the youth in general. Hobay was only thanking and applauding the Eritrean fighter/ combatant ( ተጋዳላይ/ሊት) and not youths like me who were not doing the heavy lifting. But above all else, Hobay didn’t utter nary a praise to those youths who while masticating a mouthful of Shahan Ful (ሻሓን ፉል) and quaffing Haja Barda (ሓጃ ባርዳ) were badmouthing and belittling the valiant struggles and achievements of the Eritrean fighter.

    If Hobay were to talk from his grave, ‘it’ will utter not even a single word of praise or thanks whose sole job is in bashing, denigrating, belittling and denying the Eritrean Ghedli. Hobay’s Shabab in Tigrayit doesn’t mean the youth. It’s only meaning is the Eritrean fighter.

    While the Essele (ዕሰለ) song is sung in weddings north of the Mereb river (Eritrea), it was used as a rallying cry or song for recruitment by the TPLF (Woyane) south of the Mereb river (Tigray). Here are two lines of the song Essele (ዕሰለ).

    ዕሰለ ዕሰለ ዕሰለ: ዕሰለ ነቦኻ ምሰል

    ዕሰለ ዕሰለ ዕሰለ: ዕሰለ ንሓውካ ምሰል

    • Semere Andom

      Hi Gheteb;
      First thanks for the very becoming tribute to your cousin.
      Second, you are in violation of the posting guidelines, maybe be you are allowed because of the UNESCO and Dukan Abdu connection, Zemed zelewo arrafidu ymet yblu karneshim: -)
      By the way your alma-mater is not called UNESCO:-)
      And the violation is this: you do not respond to the people who are debating you
      Any way for your impeccable tribute, I am dedicating this song to you

      • ‘Gheteb

        Hi Semere Andom,

        Nota bene: This response is only for the eyes of Semere Andom (ወዲ ማይ ላባ) and is to be shared with ( ወዲ ማይ ኒል) only on a need to know basis. But, ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ should be kept on the dark.

        You are saying that:

        ” you do not respond to the people who are debating you”.

        Not really. As a rule, I do respond with the proviso that it is not one of those occasions in Planet illogic when [ወይዘሮ Queen Bee] and the drones are NOT in the state of ……

        What happened yesterday was that ወይዘሮ Queen Bee of Planet illogic, as her wont, responded in a planetary language to a post that was written in an intergalactic language. This is in contravention to the accepted norm that all communications between the planets be conducted in an intergalactic language.

        But to expect that ወይዘሮ Queen Bee to follow that convention would be tantamount to expecting as if logic has any place in Planet illogic. As the head of that planet, ወይዘሮ Queen Bee is the very embodiment and personification of that illogicality that makes Planet illogic to be what it is.

        True to form, ወይዘሮ Queen Bee responded in a tone that was akin to that of ‘the state of Planet illogic speech’ and at the end of her peroration she left a one line cue ( a line from the lyrics of ….) signaling that ወይዘሮ Queen Bee was ready to be serenaded. Boy, that surely sent the drones of Planet illogic into a state of uncontrollable agitation/excitement.

        Alpha drone responded first. Right on the heels of Alpha drone, drone ወዲ ማይ ኦንታርዮ followed with the best lines he can muster. Not to be outdone by the others, drone ኣባ ጓይላ ክትዕ ( emcee of debating), had to go atavistic and recite lines back from three generations. Other drones sent their messages of approval in various ways. Even the pubescent drones paraded their best lines.

        Although in the logical galaxy drones don’t sting or collect nectars, in Planet illogic their sting is paralyzing, if not death-dealing mortal. They collect nectar assiduously especially from red flowers.

        Under such a state of a hurly-burly excitement, no one wants to get in the way of the uncontrollably excited drones of Planet illogic. Disregard this fact, you will be in the receiving end of that mortal sting of the drones. Do you think that I am that foolish to get in the way of the drones under such kind of a state?

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Aman,
    Temporarily you can use this one but you can google and find good software from market so you can also use it professionally for other jobs. there are a lot of companies who provide good software if you are interested.

  • Kokhob Selam

    ክቡር ዓብዱ
    ክእለት ዑስማን ዓብደርሒም ኣዝዩ ዝድነቕ እዩ::

    እቲ ቅኒት ዘድናፍቕን ዘሸፍቕን ኮይኑ :-ነተን ሰላማውያን ረጋቢት ናብ ህዝቢ መልእኽቱ ከመሓላልፍ ክልእኸን እንከሎ – ድሕሪ ሰላምታ ኣብ ውሽጥን ስደትን ሜዳን ዘለዎ ብሓፈሻ ብዛዕባ ኣብ ባይታ ዘሎ ዓወታት ክነግራን – ጉዕዞ ነዊሕ ብምዃኑ ብሰላም ክበጽሓ ብሓባር ሰሚርን ክጓዓዛ ከምዘለውንን – ኣብ ኣሰመራ ክራኸቡ ዘሎዎ ተስፋን እዩ በመሳጢ ናፍቆት ዓወትን ሰላምን ዘቛምት – ካብ ውሽጢ ዝፈልፈለ ስምዒት ዝገልጽ :: ኣብ ‘ዚ እሱ ከይበሎ ዝመሓላለፍ ረቂቕ መልእኽቲ: – ዘሕዝኖ ጉጉይ ኣካይዳ ‘ውን ከምዝነበረ ይረኣየካ እዩ : – ኣተሓሕዛ ሓድነት ::

    ዘኽታም:- ውጹዕ :- መሪሕ ዝጎዶሎ ምዃኑ ብሓውሲ ምስትምሳል ዝቁዝም ዘሎ ኮይኑ ይስመዓካ :: ግዳ ኸኣ ተስፋ ሰኒቚ ከምዝቅጽል በቲ ሓደ ድማ ዓወታት ‘ውን ይምዝገብ ከምዘሎ የጋውሕን : – “ገዛእቲ ባህ ኣይበልኩም ሰሙርን ዘየቋርሌጽን ግድልና ጉዳያትና ብሰላም ፈቲሕና ዋና ከተማና ኣስመራ ክንኣቱ ፤ኢና ” ወዘተ ብዓል ጊታር እሞ ኣብዚ ኣዛሪቡዋ እዩ :- ይበል ቅኒት !

    ኩሎም ደርፍታት ዑስማን ዓብደራሒም ኣዝዩም ቁም ነገር ሓዘል እዮም ::

  • Taazabi

    Dear Awates
    Some of your men do not like it when someone
    tries to stop them as they go downhill straight to
    the gate. They “like” it only when the iron gate
    stops and brings them to a sudden halt forcibly.
    They also look like they like doing it again and
    again and A…G….AINNNNNN…..though the
    outcome is obvious and known to everyone.
    Just seemed like that to me…..could be wrong.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Semere A,

    ኢድ ይባርኽ ! እዚ ንባህልን ያታን ኣዚኪሩ – ንቅኒት ጥበብን ዘመነ ገድሊ ስሒቡ ዘቅረበ ዓንቀጽ ሲ ቃላት ትግርኛ እንተዝኸውን ከመይ ምማዕረገ ? ተዓወት ወደያ ዓንዶም ብኡነት :- ናይ ሃገረና ሰሎሞን ::

  • Merietey

    Dear Awates
    The picture is so perfect
    and it looks like saying…..
    Misikir eka Gobotat Akhrannat
    Reeka eka tsinat jignna temekuro !
    Amet’at Halifu K’ Mik’t B’ tiba’at
    K’ Dir’eem Ayashu Nay Rega’tsi Sira’at !
    A’kraanat Gobotat Rubaatat Sin’chiroo
    Ree’eka eekha tsinaat JIGNAA temekuro !
    (courtesy of Merietey by Yemane Baria )

  • Semere Andom

    Hi BY:
    I am sure u heard it when H the second came your erased it:-), But seriously I think we talked about when we went to the wedding in Ohio and when we were mesmerized with the Gurage or something dance in the house,.
    Well , it seems that we Eritreans talk to the non-humans and they answer, u should listen Wedi Tukul’s answer about the mount Denden:
    Also, in my sister’s wedding, I analysed, ‘kidiyom, kidiyom adi guan fishik enab belki…”
    Of course, in silence, I may write about it, no wonder the amiche and Ethiopian’s laught at an Eritrean calling her bf or husband kisto hawey,
    Your experience in the wedding is not uncommon, a singer told me that he was singing in a wedding in USA, Tx and people drew swords when he sang songs they did not like
    Sem T, why do we say, ” kidiyom, kidiyom”;-)

  • L.T

    [from the moderator: comment didn’t begin with salutation. Therefore, it is is deleted]

    • L.T


  • Semere Tesfai

    Selam Semere Andom

    Moksi: language was created to express values, cultures, norms, way of life… for a specific community. If you grow-up far from the community, words don’t mean much (even if you know the right translation). Meaning: it is hard to connect the word to the culture. And Al-jejira Bein Al-Nileieen is too far from the Tigrigna land. Having said that, let me try to help explain until someone more knowledgeable shows-up.

    1. – Abagunbah

    I think Abagunah was not a good choice-word for Wedi-Ghebru’s song. Berekhet MengsteAb and Zeineb Beshir got it right. But remember also, there is shortage of vocabulary in Tigrigna. I think we call ሺላ for all small birds of prey like hawks, kites, falcons, buzzard….. and ኣሞራ for all large birds of prey like eagles, vultures, condor…. And if I’m not mistaken, Abagunbah (ground hornbill) is not a raptor (one of the birds of prey). Unlike raptors, Abagumbah mostly consumes insects.

    And why do we always ask ኣሞራ ናይ ሰማይ or ሆባይ ሰማ? Because it is the only bird with the largest wings that soars way up-high in the sky with a perfect view of the landscape under.

    2. – ዕሰለ (Essele)

    Essele, if you take it literally, it is the art of taming (unclaimed) honeybee colony On THE MOVE, with the intent to keep them domesticated (in your property) for the purpose of honey production.

    Why is the honeybee colony on a move?

    Well, because (a) There is not enough food in the area (example drought) (b) There were too many bees in the beehive (over-population). And too keep the bee population in control, the queen-bee produces new queen(s) to split the colony in two or more (ኣንቆራ) depending on the number of queens hatched. And keeping a moving honeybee colony is a fare game.

    How do we (Eritreans) tame a moving honeybee colony?

    After a queen-bee leaves its beehive with a large group of workers, we hear a humming noise of bees 30-40 feet in the air visible to the eye. Then while running after the colony of bees, we take off our shirts (or any cloth), waving our shirt in the air (sometimes throwing dust to the air), we scream at the top of our lungs “land”, “land”, “land”…… ዕሰል: ዕሰል: ዕሰል: ዕሰል…… And don’t ask me why, but the colony of bees do land.

    Where do the colony of bees land?

    Of course on top of the MOST BEAUTIFUL TREE in the nearby area – a tree that has the most beautiful green leaves. Then, the next step would be putting them into our beehive. How do we put the colony of bees into our beehive? We rush and bring cold water (always the colder the water the better). Then as we spray them with cold water, simultaneously, we dig through the pile of shivering-cold swarm of bees (I’m was told they don’t sting when cold) and find the queen from deep inside the pile, clip her wings, and put her inside our beehive. Then we carry the beehive full of bees, and put it in our property for later harvest (honey).

    Now, let’s relate the bee colony story to the ethnic Tigrigna’s song – of course honey (bee) and milk (cattle) are expressions of good things in our society.

    The song is about celebrating a young boy’s life coming of edge, walking from the gates of his parents house (for the first time), heading to meet his bride. And singing Essele, the villagers, while celebrating the transition (from a boy to a man), they also wish him the best (for the coming new stage of his life).

    And in celebration, the first half of the crowd would say “land, land, please land” (meaning land at a deserving beautiful young lady’s house in the village (or in the house of highly regarded family) and the other half of the crowd would say “I’m not a fool to land in a wrong house/family – (cold water)”.

    Then the first half of the crowd would say “land, land, land…. you’re the blessed one” and the other half of the crowd would say “land, land, land”

    Then the first half of the crowd would say “land, land, land like your father when he came of age” and the other half of the crowd would say “land, land, land”

    Then the first half of the crowd would say, please “all ladies, God bless you all, please say land, land., land” and the second half of the crowd would say “land, land, land”.

    Then then the first half half of the crowd would say “all gentlemen, God bless you all, please say land, land, land” and the second half of the crowd would say “land, land, land”. And singing Essele Ho, the good-wisher crowd would accompany the groom to that highly regarded family’s house in that village to meet his young wife.

    Now read the Tigrigna vession:

    ዕሰለ ሆ: ዕሰለ ዕሰለ – ዓሻ ድየ: ኣብ ማይ ዝዓስለ
    ዕሰለ ሆ: ዕሰለ ዕሰለ – ዕሰለ ሆ ግርማ ተዓደለ
    ዕሰለ ሆ: ዕሰለ ዕሰለ – ዕሰለ ሆ: ነቦኻ ምሰለ

    ዕሰለ በላ: ግርማ ተዓደላ – ዕሰለ ሆ: ዕሰለ ዕሰል
    ዕሰለ በሉ: ግርማ ተዓደሉ – ዕሰለ ሆ: ዕሰለ ዕሰል

    Semere Tesfai

    • Semere Andom

      Hi Moksi:
      La La, AL-Jejizira bein Al-Nieieen laissa too far:-))
      Thanks, the explanation about essel your presented is interensting
      Well, I see we ask the eagle, but he answers:
      We ask the mountain and he answer

      • Semere Tesfai

        Selam Mokhsi

        Thank you Semere A.

      • G. Gebru

        Dear all
        አባጉምባህ (hornbill) ሀደ ካብቲባህርያቱ አብ ገራሁ ወይ ግራውቲ ሸንኮለል ምባል ኢዩ ከብዚ ዝነቀለ ይመስለኒ
        አባጉንባህ ዘይግራቱ ይኮልል ህማቅ ሰብአይ ዘይሰበይቱ የእልል ዝብል አባሀህላ አሎ።

        እሰልየ ብዝምልከት መርአዊ መርአት ሂዙ ንገዝኡምስተመልሰ ጋይላ ይትከልሞ እንዳመሰየ ብዝከደ ተአደምቲ እሰልየ ከየበሉ ሰለዘይከዱ በሉ አሰልየ አብልዎ ይበሀል እሰልየ ይብል ይስእስእ ገለገለ ካብተአደምትን ቤተሰብንከአ ገንዘብ ደዩ ካልእ ነገር ይሽልምዎ። ካብኡ ንድሀር ክ
        ፃወት ዝደለየ ይቅፅል ክከይድ ዝደለየለከአ ይከይድ።

  • Tzigereda

    Dear Sem,
    Thank you for this beautiful article full of memories!

  • Stefanos Temelso

    AbagumbaH is not Eagle, it is Hornbill. You can find it at google if you click for image. In Tigrigna AbagumbaH is a favorite bird for expressing romance by way of songs. There is also a proverb that says KBEL’UWA ZDELEYU ABAGUMBAH ZAGRA YBLUWA. So, we can see here why Eagle was not used. The eagle in our culture is always remembered as a a bird that grabs chicken, untended meat etc. So, everything connected with it is negative. People call someone who takes other people’s property SHILA! for example the Dergue was called “Shila mengsti” by some people. But the eagle is compensated in some ways for its agility and Bereket Mengistab sang “Amora ente zkone, Amora ente zkone abza alem kizawere. (If I hade been an eagle I would traveled around the world. Anyhow thanks to Semere for reminding us of our old memories.

    • saay7

      Selamat Semere & Stefanos:

      First, let’s pass on our kudos to Semere the great, what an awesome story teller. This means, Sem, that the pressure now builds: where/when is the second book?

      Now, Stefanos: to add to Bereket and his Amora which is always a sign of freedom in Tirgrinya songs, here’s one of my favorites, a tear-jerker by Alex Kahsay (ኣማሪረ ሎምስ ኣማሪረ):: it is brutal for the homesick. Sample lyrics:

      ምፍልላይ ወይ ናፍቆት:
      ኮይኑኒ ዓንደል ዕረ:
      ደሃይ ዝነግር የለን –
      ሓደኳ ናትኪ ወረ:
      ኣሞራ ዶ ሽላ ኮይነ
      ክመጽአኪ ነፊረ?

      ዝያዳይ ዘኪረዮ ፍቅሪ ናይ ዓሚ :
      ይምለስ ዶ ኾን ሎሚ?

      And if you can’t get over his Nigerian outfit and focus on the song, it is your loss, Abi: you can take the man from Asmara; but you can’t remove the Asmarino from the man (the hand gestures are classic Asmarino.) Fine, if you can’t get past his clothes, he has another song for dealing with homesickness: ጽንዓት ግበሪ


      • Abi

        HI Saay
        The thing is you can take the Asmara out of the Asmarino and replace it with a Nigerino as evidenced by the singer himself.
        Eway wurdet!

      • Semere Andom

        Hi cousin Sal:
        I also remember Alex because you introduced him to me before, but he was not talking to the eagle:-)
        what second book? first the first book,which the editor Saay refused to edit:-))

        • saay7

          Hey Cousin iSem:

          Your mokhsi wrote a book (“Hearts Like Birds”) and u don’t know about it? Tsk tsk. Order it from Amazon right now and sit in a corner and read it. Here’s a book review which is not a book review:


          • Semere Andom

            Hi Sal:
            Got you, I read both the review and the book, but that is very hard act to follow, because everyone is nice book as you said in your review. And imagine cousin sem writing:-)

          • saay7

            Selamat Cousin iSemere:

            Why are fixing things for me: I screwed up! This is what happened with the fact that awate is blessed with 3 Semeres. I actually thought your piece was actually written by Semere Habtemariam. I should have known better: Semere H would never have confused Abba Gunbah for Eagle:)

            The piece by Semere T about the origins of “Esele” is a masterpiece. I hope he now tells us the origins of the fire hazard– the Teraerae/ sparkler– at Tigrinya weddings when the bride/groom are dancing and the “esele” is sung. Between the swords of lowlanders and fireworks of highlanders, Eritrean weddings are a dangerous affair.


          • Semere Andom

            hahah, you did not confuse me with Sem TH, that is grounds for “tellag btelata”
            Well, I asked those who knew and they told me it is Amora. Then when writing, I also remembered that we also call eage, Nsri, so I was sure that Abba-Gunbah is really Amora, Shilla, Lillo Nstri.
            Yea, Sem T is prolific and we thank Ali Salim for the gift:-)

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Selam Smere

    Nice piece, a flood of memories. Keep it up. Two corrections before Gheteb or Gud snatch them.

    1. I think AbagumbaH is not eagle; it’s the African equivalent of Turkey. A black, wobbly bird with a tall and an enormously long neck and beak. In Tigray, Hobay is eagle and not abagumbaH.

    2. Nakfa was liberated in March 1977, and was not recaptured by the Durg, the only city that stood uncaptured after the reversal of 1978. Wedi-Tukul wrote and sang that song (b the way a memorable one) after the 5th offensive, 1979. From the plateau of Nakfa, Denden appears to be a mid size Mount, in Eritrean topographical sense, but when you look at it from the depths of Hidaay valley where the enemy was advancing, it poses a challenging hike. Mount Denden was extremelt important to both forces, that’s why a close quarter combats and co-living continued for almost ten years. A mere 50-100 meters separated the trenches of the opposing forces. At night, Denden would appear to be staging a spectacular fireworks, because it was hit from three directions, frontal and from both right and left flanks. Many made that height their eternal resting place, men and women.

    In a related note, today has been the concluding day of the celebrations of the 26th year of the liberation of Massawa. Below is Gerry’s song.

    And this is the memorable Zainab Beshir
    And this is for SAAY
    Thanks again.

    • Lamek

      Selam Mahmoud Saleh. Yes EPLF forever!!! Do you know where the money was raised from to do the celebrations? Did you hear recently that PFDJ was forcing the poor people of Massawa for a sum of money to finance the worthless dankera?

      Your boss IA himself has been quoted as saying that we need to stop dancing and celebrating now and get to work and rebuild the nation. When will you be done glorifying EPLF and PFDJ and get to work and help your people?

      For your information, every heroic Eritrean victory belongs to the Eritrean people and not to the EPLF.

      Have you ever asked yourself where the individuals are who spearheaded the heroics of Sirhit Fenkil? Where are they? Where is your brother (to quote the Catholic bishops)? How would you feel if you were excluded from your kids’ college graduation ceremony, after you have put in over 20 years of hard to get them to where they need to be? If you decide to reply to me, please make it short. I can quickly understand what you say, without you having to go through a five page introductory section.

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Selam Kemal
        Just take care of your life, buddy. You are plagiarizin me using my punch line that all achievements belong to the hard working people of Eritrea. Like it or not, EPLF had long completed its task. It consisted of doers not whiners. The celebration, well, you have the right to un-celebrate it. You are not alone here. At one time, some individuals were protesting us celebrating AlfateH of September. And you guys complain your confused weirdo attitude has not gotten traction. If you care, you can fight for your right while celebrating your history. I think that’s not too long a comment.

        • Lamek

          Well Mr. Mohammed, you didn’t answer my questions. But anyway, you are losing a lot of ground by the day and you are exposing your real self as a PFDJ sympathizer trying to defend the indefensible as Berhe Y. said.

          I like to bring to everyone’s attention also that in the 45 minute interview of Yordanos Hailemichael, you looked hard and you found one seemingly inconsistent claim in her statement and that was that her claiming the 300-400 member gunta who witnessed the atrocities that befell on her. As she said repeatedly, she was in a state of utter confusion because she was very young. Plus, it is easy to connect the dots that the violence against her happened throughout her stay with Shaebia. So her claim that there were that many witnesses is not a stretch because I am pretty sure she was referencing when she was in the kebid bret unit.

          We know where your heart is really.

          You claimed that “…my punch line that all achievements belong to the hard working people of Eritrea…” I went to your previous posts and there was not a single incident where you mentioned the Eritrea PEOPLE. You use the word people a lot but it is to denigrate and label and threaten us by saying “unusual people, people like that..” I will provide a list for you at the end here. But never ever do I read you standing up for the Eritrean people. You stand up straight for EPLF and PFDJ but never for the Eritrean people. “Nations are saved by people who love them…” Your statement. What are nations without people? Denden, heavy fighting, enemy, conquer etc. Wow!

          Here is a list of the context under which you use the word people (you rarely say Eritrean people).

          – some people wanted to use the article for cheap political gains.

          – the people who challenged her were denying sex related abuses did occur

          – I said, repeatedly, that some people entrusted with authority had in fact misused that. The campaign Yemane is talking about is well known. We know the names of the leaders

          – PS: Thanks Bayan Nagash for your interjection in reminding people to hold back their irresponsible and judgmental statements.

          – Because I know rape had occurred many times and people got punished for it.

          – If she was evacuated with the exodus of people including QeyaHti Embaba

          – It’s not unusual for two people to read the same piece and come out with opposing interpretations.

          – if people could not identify who is Ethiopian diplomat and who is Eritrean opposition leader, don’t be surprised why the opposition could not garner Eritreans’ support.

          – Nations are saved by people who love them; yes, by those who love to see their territorial integrity intact, their people free

          • saay7

            Selamat Lamek:

            The problem with everything you have written is a common one: you didn’t add the phrase “to my knowledge.” And that has led you to a very wrong conclusion about the great Mahmud Saleh.

            This is because Mahmuday has gone to great lengths, over the period he has been writing here at awate, to indicate that Ghedli belongs to the Eritrean people and all its accomplishments are those of the Eritrean people. It would be a pain-in-the-neck for me to research and find but, if it is a deal-breaker for you (or if you don’t believe what I am saying) I will go the distance and find several instances when he did that. Moreover, he did that for the right intentions: to stop people from letting their anger and disgust with PFDJ to color all the great sacrifices that were made by the Eritrean people to rid an occupying power.

            At the risk of repeating myself (oh, never mind, I am always repeating myself these days because i have been writing about these issues since the Internet was invented:) what we need to do is to compare ELF/EPLF with other liberation groups and not with the liberal-democratic standards we take for granted today. We then also need to perhaps differentiate between ELF/EPLF and the post-independent org called PFDJ.

            Let’s take the issue of rape–oh how I hate that terrible word: let’s substitute it with what it is Violent Act involving Sex. In the entire time that the ELF (1961-1981) and EPLF (1971-1991) were in power in the Eritrean field did anyone ever accuse them of what the Sudanese janjaweed are accused of: using sexual violence to “pacify” adversaries? Did anyone accuse them of using what the ANC was using: buring tires to “necklace” adversaries? No, and no. So what Mahmuday and all veterans of the armed struggle are opposed to is the defamation of Ghedli for the crimes of a few.

            Now, having said that, can one absolve PFDJ of that? Well, not according to the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission which found that BOTH Eritrean soldiers and Ethiopian soldiers were guilty of tolerating rape as a means of punishing pacifying the enemy. Where I think our brother (and others) get tone-deaf about is that when Eritrean women (in many cases girls) are making disturbing claims, they immediately go to Some Important Document (the charter, the constitution, the code of military justice) to negate the claim. Mahmuday for example talks about how kbur isaias afwerki was telling the rank-and-file not to let their commanding officers abuse them, not take advantage of their Halefatat, etc. Well, was that a means for Isaias to ensure that his deputies didn’t get too powerful–they don’t threaten his power– or was he genuinely interested in the well-being of the latter? Everything that happened in Eritrea between 2002-present (after institutionalizing Wefri Warsay Yeka’alo), the culture of impunity that reigned clearly, the circle-the-wagons and protect our colonels that prevailed, the harems that were condoned– shows that it has always been “do whatever it takes for me to stay in power indefinitely.”


          • Semere Andom

            Hi Sal and Lamek;

            Yes, Mahmoud said that he accomplishments are of the Eritrean people and guess who he said it to, he said it to me.

            Sal you are also correct when you said that some people point to the laws they have written and they have not followed, if PFDJ and IA followed even their own laws that I hate we will be in much better place.

            No, one is listening to me (am acting Nitric now ;-)), I think only a few get what Tzigereda wrote about and what Yorda exposed. It is all about power, the rank and file who abused women were punished, not only that even consensual sex was punished by death by both orgs before it dawned to them that the only thing that humans will not be able to succeed is against their own bodies.

            But I am convinced that the leadership in EPLF tolerated, looked the other way, and even encouraged the abuse and rape as long as the perpetuators served its goals. If you were a party member, you can demand any women to be your radio operator and then you will be able coerce her, that is also rape, you can call it light sexual violence because it is not by physical force, it is by mental force. If you are a party member, the platoon leader or whoever is assigning the arrangement he can send a woman of your choice for errands that take days. He can assign her to sleep next to you. All scenarios amount to sexual abuse. So let get over this fact, all of, the doubters and deniers (Not you Sal or Lamek, of course)

            Now, Sal, I know this issue we will still debate and bicker about even after we both retire in Nefasit and when I come to your store to give you a signed copy of my book ;-). For sure our orgs were not like Janjaweed, but I am convinced that the PFDJ/EPLF would have acted like the Janjaweed’s have they not calculated that it is a losing formula. Otherwise to do what they are doing to their people now, allowing rapes and torture, I am sure they are capable of it before and would have done it, (I know you are muttering this not proof, but it is proof by suspicion). Their MO is tricky, they fool us by not doing it to the enemies but do it to us, they do not torture war prisoners but torture and kill dissidents from the beginning including women

            The same logic other people say, oh, PFDJ never bombed mosques or they have not massacred like the Ethiopians in Wedki-Duba and Hrgigo and S Onna, my practiced, rehearsed answer to that is because IA group changed their MO, and do all these things in hiding and then I add that, when one day the mothers in Asmara march in Godena Harnet, PFDJ will massacre them in broad day light, then we will rename Godena Harnet to Godena Dem Jah-Jah

          • Lamek

            Selamat Sal, for whatever it is worth, I have made up my mind about Mahmoud Saleh and “to my knowledge” his heart is with EPLF and to some extent with PFDJ more than anywhere else.

            Looking at the other larger issues you brought up, I don’t disagree with much of what you said. Particularly, your concluding paragraph is impeccable. I am not arguing that ghedli was a rape center. No, not by any stretch but it is obvious that there were incidents of sexual violence against poor, uneducated, defenseless women and there was indifference to the suffering of some women per the accounts of Yordanos and Tsigereda. I am also a strong proponent of our culture being a real deterrence of any sort of violent behavior let alone sexual violence against women.

            To my knowledge, Tsigereda and Yordanos are telling personal stories and not conclusive determinations that sexual violence was rampant in ghedli. Thus, we should take what they are telling us seriously and find ways to eliminate it or minimize it in our society. Everybody knows what PFDJ officials and alemti have been doing. If anybody argues against the large number of predatory acts that have been happening in Sawa, then that person is a total denier. But even this is probably not comparatively as bad as other developing countries or liberation fronts.

            However, again, when we hear individual citizens come out and tell us their stories, we should refrain from going way out of the way and try to defame the accused and belittle the accuser and poke holes in their stories. If you heard Yordanos, even to this date, she seems really confused. To expect her to give us specific dates, names of officials, and places is being extremely unreasonable and unfair. There is absolutely no question in my mind that she was abused and that is what matters most. She is not asking for restitution from ghedli or its participants like Mahmoud Saleh. She is trying to heal herself and what some individuals are doing here is making it harder for her to go through the healing process. This is where I am extremely agitated by Mahmoud’s attempts to silence women like Yordanos and Tsigereda. They need our support and compassion. Ghedli is not being stood in trial. This is about individuals who suffered at the hands of Ghedli and all of us who glorify or de-glorify ghedli can come together and support this women and help others come out and tell us their stories. This is not about who is better ELF/EPLF vs SPLA or UNITA or FRELIMO or others.

            Ghedli is ours in its entirety! The good, the bad, and the ugly. Let others deal with their own.

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dear SAAY7
            I thank you for this near perfect input. Two things here.
            1. Dear Lamek, I can generate several direct such statements, and many themes that elucidate my counterpunch to you that you indeed used my statements to smack me down. What do we call that in Tigrigna? Ghereb bHaKla.
            2. Dear SAAY7, I brought IA “intervention” to demonstrate the magnitued and intensity of complaints of tegadelti (male and female) that pushed IA to launch an open campaign. There were many issues that could be grouped to “excesses”, sexual abuses and and corruption were amon the most glaring ones. Therefore, my intention was to demonstrate that tegadelti were not passivery followers or indentured servants as some want us to believe. I know you are looking at it from the other end, IA intentions.
            It’s funny, in order to defeat PFDJ, one will need to deprive it of all the achievements Eritreans bled in achieving. Giving the unparalleled sacrifices and steadfastness of Eritreans to PFDJ is a self-defeating strategy. I never make splitting remarks when it comes to this. I have said the contributions Eritreans made was proportional to the demographic area of Eritrea. I never speak of ELF or EPLF when it concerns general reference. I raise EPLF when I see an intentional attack.
            Anyway, thanks and God bless you. The only man who could stand on the edge of the blade..haha…another phrase of IA.
            Have a nice day.

          • Peace!

            Dear Lamek,

            Although Mahmud is capable of defending himself, it would be unfair to let such blunt aggressive personal attack go without giving my observation. I have been around at this forum for quiet sometime and never read any comment by Mahmud defending PFDJ. In fact he even stated many times the shortcomings of Ghedli/EPLF, let alone defending PFDJ the organization that is destroying the nation for which he fought and bled.

            It is really disappointing that we are repeatedly failing to utilize this great forum to find a common ground and fight for common cause. For how long are we going to blame PFDJ before we stop and take responsibility for our failures. Gee!