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Ustaz Saleh Hamde: A Patriot Passes Away

“Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” That’s a total submission to the will of God and to the authority of death that doesn’t exclude anyone. On Monday morning, July 27, 2015, the much respected Ustaz Saleh Hamde passed away. The deceased has been wrestling with illness in the last few months to finally succumb to death in his hospital bed in Melbourne, Australia.

Ustaz Saleh Hamde Salman was born in Keren 1934 where he finished his elementary education and later attended the second batch of the Bet Gerghis high school in Asmara, after which he joined the Teachers Training Institute and graduated to start a lifelong career as an educator.

In his long years of service as a teacher, Ustaz Saleh educated hundreds of Eritreans, beginning with his first posting in Agordat and then Keren.

In the 1960s, Ustaz Saleh attended the Education Administration Institute in Addis Ababa and was appointed as the principal of the Keren elementary school, but he wouldn’t stay there for long as he was always under the watchful eyes of the Haile Sellassie regime. Soon, the government kept transferring him to many places to deny him continuous connections with his fellow members of the underground national movement. He was jailed for three months and frozen for a while until he was given his job again, but this time he was moved to Nakfa, Asmara and many other places.

Ustaz Saleh left the “Haraka/Mahber Shew’atte” underground movement and aligned himself with the ELF under Hamid Idris Awate.

In the mid 1970s, Ustaz Saleh joined the Eritrean Liberation Front and worked with his lifelong colleague Ustaz Mahmoud Mohammed Saleh in the curriculum department. From 1977 to 1997 he was the director of the UNESCO school in Kassala, Sudan. Today, his  students from that school are scattered all over the world–many of them successful professionals.

In 2008, Ustaz Saleh relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he remained a mentor and father figure to the Eritrean community in Melbourne, attending to its social cohesion and urged the young to focus on attaining higher education. Ustaz Saleh was a man who struggles to keep the cohesion and unity of the ever growing Eritrean community in Australia, continuing his role that he played in Eritrea, and then in Sudan.

In 2010, he was elected to the Commission that was tasked to prepare for the Hawassa Conference, where the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change was established and where he declined pressures to run for a leadership position.

An ardent patriot throughout his life, the deceased remained a dignified and honest man who commanded respect. He remained true to his patriotic zeal, and actively participated in the long struggle for the dignity and freedom of the Eritrean citizen since the rule of emperor Hail Sellassie, the bloody rule of Mengistu Hailemariam and until his death, his death, against the unjust rule of Isaias and his PFDJ regime.

Ustaz Saleh is survived by three sons (Beshir, Abdulrahim, and Jemal) and three daughters (Fouzia, Ammara, and Nejat).

*Content is basically taken from a eulogy by Mohammed Tewekel, Ustaz Saleh’s son in law

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  • Solomon Haile

    Rest in Peace Ustaz SaliH
    Witnessing this Great Teacher’s products/fruits (their success and personalities on cyberspace) celebrating his life, while recognizing the great loss to his closest ones, I can’t help but celebrate his gains and the eventual dividends the early lessons to young minds he imparted. N sdrabeitu TsinAt yHabkum.

    Solomon Haile

  • Amanuel

    May his soul rest in peace and my condolences to his family.

  • Miab T

    Ustaz Saleh Hamde, my grandfather was indeed a great man, he fought for everything he believed in and stood up for many. May he rest in peace and inshallah go to jannah al firdos. we will miss you.
    ~Miab Mohammed Taha Tewekel

  • Mohammed Ahmed

    الله ىرحم الفقىد وىحسن الىه وانا لله وانا الىه راجعون

  • selam

    Dear All
    sad news to his family and to Eritrea , he has nothing to regret , he has done more than his share . He has used his time efficiently and wisely . Most people where begging to get elected for leadership in awasa just to make their name popular , yet the giant man saw them and rejected their call to join their packs.

  • Dayphi

    Al-Ahzab [33:23]           

    مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلً
    33:23 (Asad) Among the believers are men who have [always] been true to what they have vowed before God; and among them are such as have [already] redeemed their pledge by death, and such as yet await [its fulfillment] without having changed [their resolve] in the least.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Allah Yerhamu,
    We have lost another great man. People like teacher Saleh have nothing to regret about when they depart from this world. they were honest with themselves and with everybody. above all they were honest with what they believe, May the almighty keep him in higher paradise, Yareb, Amen.

  • wedifre

    R.I.P. Memhir Saleh Hamde,
    Honest patriots will pass because no one remains but their names and great dedication and true and honest work remains immortal.
    May God receive him in heaven and give his family the power to overcome this terrible loss.

  • Semere T Habtemariam

    Today, I
    rise up in awe and adulation for we lost a prophet

    Semere T

    I have known the late memhir Saleh Hamde’s family for over
    thirty years. It all started in 1981-1982 when Abderehim, one of his younger sons,
    who, upon graduating High-school, came to teach us, 5th graders, at bet tmhrti qalsi as part of his national
    service. He was a member of the ELF’s Eritrean Student Union. Because of him
    and memhir Mewes, Math and English teachers respectively, my friends and I were
    able to pass the entrance exam for Junior High School and skipped the 6th
    grade. This was a big deal since the UNESCO-run school provides stipends to its
    students, and as children of tegadelti
    and sw’at, this was more than one
    could hope for. It was at this school
    that I first saw the late memhir Saleh Hamde; he was the principal. All I
    remember was a man with glasses who exhibited authority and none of us would
    dare mess with him. This image would change when he came few years ago to visit
    his sons in Dallas. Bashir, his oldest son is a good friend and it is with him
    and others that we founded the Eritrean-American Forum of Dallas and Fort-Worth
    in the aftermath of September 18, 2001. Bashir is one of the smartest, most generous
    and decent people I know—a rare individual who makes you appreciate to be alive
    in this generation. It was during his brief visit to Dallas, I really came to
    know the late memhir. I had the honor to take him to a Mediterranean restaurant
    and had a great conversation over coffee. The man who I thought was a strict
    disciplinearian was a tender, caring and loving man who relishes talking about
    books and ideas. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his sense of humor; he
    cracked a couple of jokes that made me laugh. But more importantly, I saw a man
    who took enormous pride and satisfaction to see his former students excelling
    in education, work and life. I had plans to bring him home to meet my kids; but
    it was not meant to be. His views on Eritrean politics were not much different
    from mine, but in light of his age, knowledge and experience, I thought he was
    a natural voice of reconciliation. We lost a much-needed voice.

    As we mourn his death, we also need to celebrate his life; a
    life devoted to educating generations of Eritreans. I want to cherish the image
    of the laughter I had with him and it is only right that I tell one of the
    jokes he told me. You see, the late Saleh Hamde, became a teacher at a time when
    Eritrea was going through the federal experience and the Ethiopian government
    was aggressively promoting Amharic. Like most of his generation, the late
    memhir did not know any Amharic and didn’t have any interest learning it. The
    Haileselassie regime, however, was clever and gave them incentives they could
    not ignore. Learning Amharic became the ticket for more money and promotion.
    The late memhir with his colleagues started learning Amharic and their first book
    of introduction was Lemma be gebeya. During
    the summer break, he travelled with his Kerenite friend to Ethiopia to further
    their Amharic education. The bus they were riding had to stop in Gonder and
    from the window his friend could see a lot of people in the open market. Out of
    curiosity, his asked the late memhir “Mitu elli?” What is this? The late memhir
    had a better grasp of Amharic and using his rudimentary language, he asked the
    man sitting next to them and the man responded, “Yehe gebeya new.” This is the
    market. Instantly the friend recognized the word “gebeya” and blurted, “Lemma
    min elli ad tu.” Lemma is from this village.

    Thanks to my Arabic teacher, Uztaz Hassen, I still remember
    most of the poems we were made to memorize. The one that comes to my mind now
    is, a verse from Ahmed Shewqi, which says: Qum lil mAlim fi altebjila kada
    almuAlimu an ykun resula. Rise up in awe and adulation for the teacher is
    almost a prophet.

    Today, I rise up in awe and adulation for we lost a prophet.

    Rest in peace, memhir.

    My condolences to the Saleh Hamde family.


    Semere T. Habtemariam

  • tes

    May he Rest in Peace.

  • Peace!

    Inalilahi Wainalilahi Rajoon May allah grant him jantul firdous.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Rest in peace our compatriot.

  • Bayan Nagash

    My he rest in peace. Allah yijAlu min ahlell Jenna.

    • Kidane Araya

      Eritrea lost one of its Wise men.
      I met Memhir at an Eritrean meetings in Dallas TX in 2006. I was very happy to meet such a wise person with a lot to learn from.
      Finally he passed away. May God rest him in peace.