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When Even Good News Is Given A Shrug

On behalf of myself and all awatistas (whether you like it or not), I would like to congratulate Nigerians and Ghanians for waking up one Monday morning (let’s assume it was Monday) and learning that they no longer belong to the dreaded “low income” country but the up-and-coming “low middle income” country. Yay! Please join me in giving a special shout-out to Nigeria which surpassed South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy. This must have meant quite a lot to the Ghanian president who ran on a platform of improving the livelihood of Ghanians. Of course, cynics among you are going to ruin it all for us and say that this had nothing to do with prudent fiscal/monetary policies but an abrupt change in the way that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is calculated. The cynics would be right.  This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Maternal Mortality Ratios (MMR) and Eritrea was in the top 10 countries in reducing MMRs.  The ordinary Nigerian, Ghanian and Eritrean have shrugged off this “good news.” Why?

1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

There have been a number of books and journals from scholars bemoaning the lack of reliable statistics on Africa, particularly after the Ghana (2010) and Nigeria (2013) GDP jumps. This started a domino effect with other African countries lining up for adjustment to their GDP (Ethiopia, where are you?) and the IMF/World Bank taking a skeptical look. Of course, when you move from “low income” to “low middle income” category, you lose some concessions like favorable interest rates, so some Africans are not incentivized to adjust their GDP upward, even if the math says they should.

Those of you who have taken econ in college and still remember it (without cheating and going to, like I did) may want to skip this section or treat it as a refresher. For the rest of us, there are two ways to define and calculate GDP: the expenditure approach and the income approach. The two should give you the same number because one man’s expenditure is another man’s income. (Please notice I did NOT say one woman’s expenditure… because I am not sexist.)

The Expenditure approach says that a nation’s GDP is the sum of four expenditures:

1. Private Consumption (C ): Goods and services purchased by households.
2. Private Investment (I): Machinery investment, increase in inventory, home purchases;
3. Government Purchases (G): Goods and services purchased by government. This does NOT include transfer payments that the lefties love (welfare, social security, etc)
4. Net Exports (X – M): exports minus imports

If you use this approach to calculating GDP in Africa, you are stuck with a lot of problems. How does one quantify and qualify goods and services purchased by households in an economy where there is contraband and bartering? You can’t quantify and qualify increase in inventory where inventory is hidden to minimize taxation because the tax collectors in Africa use the eyeball methodology when assessing tax: “beautiful and fully-stocked store you got there; it would be a shame if something were to happen to it!” ) Government purchases that require hard currency are easy to track (assuming they are not “national secrets” that can’t be shared): but what about off-the-book purchases like the ones that are common in Eritrea? Finally, net exports depend on a customs office with sterling record keeping, which Africa is solely lacking.

The Income approach says that a nation’s GDP is the sum of four incomes:

1. Labor Income (W): Salaries, wages, fringe benefits and transfer payments (social security, welfare, etc.)
2. Rental Income (R ): income from rental of households, as well as income from royalties, patents and copyrights.
3. Interest income (I): household incomes derived from lending money to government and companies
4. Profits (P): company profits (more accurately, “accounting profit”, add back depreciation and indirect business taxes)

Here, too, you have the same problems. The labor income most likely does not count the cash-market: it probably only counts actual salaries. Rental income: to evade taxes, there are side-side deals, tax transactions that the statisticians can only estimate. Interest income is negligible: Forget lending to government: Africans are loathe to keep their money in the bank fearing the confiscatory and coup-prone governments. As for company profits—we have a problem at the top line (quantifying revenues) and the middle line (quantifying expenses), never mind the depreciation and business taxes.

In short, when aggregating the numbers, regardless of what methodology is used, the statistician is faced with a challenge at every level.

This assumes there is a statistician: in much of Africa, the statistics department is one person, who is often lent out to other departments.

When it comes to GDPs, the focus is on GDP growth or decline, that is, it is a relative measure on whether the country’s economy is getting better or worse. Because the comparison is done using “constant dollars”, a base year is required for calculation. The base year is supposed to be one when the country collected a lot of data on its economy. The downside to this is that if the base year is ancient, it may be over-counting sectors of the economy that are no longer dynamic and/or it may be understating sectors of the economy that didn’t exist when the base year was established (telecommunication, smart phones, etc.) The World Bank/IMF recommends that the base year be changed every five years; in Africa, many countries are using 20 years-ago as a base year. Nigeria was using 1990; Ghana was using 1993.

In short, the sudden shift in Ghana and Nigeria GDP’s growth is attributed to changing the base year. Cynics, rejoice.  Well, cynics never rejoice. For more on this, you can read Morten Jerven’s book: “Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It” or his article:

2. GDP Per Capita

Of course, GDP, even when accurate, is an incomplete report—as I keep reminding my Ethiopian friends who are celebrating their country’s status as one of Africa’s biggest economies. The one that matters is GDP per capita. This is because GDP growth is meaningless if it is not keeping up with population growth. But GDP Per Capita is even harder to depend upon because African governments are notoriously unreliable when it comes to taking a census.

This (dearth of statistics) is actually one of the most surprising things about the Eritrean government. Surprising because the EPLF was famous for its data gathering and crunching (locally referred to as Ornek.) If you are skeptical about this, you may want to refer to:

(1) the “Martyr’s Database”, a report that was smuggled out and published by awate and asmarino. The part we published is a small fraction of the data that was gathered. Our decision to withhold the info was for national security purposes but it was ominously interpreted later on by our friend Yosief Ghebrehiwet as  “awate the anesthesiologist conspiring with the Eritrean government in the extinction of Bhere Tigrinya)”;

(2) “Eritrea: Its Land and People”, a report that was smuggled out and published by awate. The details are impressive: the government had broken down the population to the hamlet/ qushet level.

(3) There are also reports published by students working on their dissertations who have used private (non-published) reports that still indicate that the government is collecting census data. A good example of this is a paper published by Yonas Tesfamariam Bahta and Berhane Okubay Haile (University of the Free State, South Africa), entitled: “DETERMINANTS OF POVERTY OF ZOBA MAEKEL OF ERITREA: A HOUSEHOLD LEVEL ANALYSIS.” The two relied on a 2008 census (never published, of course), which breaks down the population of “Zoba Maekel,” by household, down to every village.

Occasionally, if not rarely, there are genuine national security questions to withhold information. More often than not, when governments do not release statistics, it is either because there is something unflattering about them or, in the case of the PFDJ which has always seen itself as a vanguard guiding us and protecting us from demagogues, because “gziu aykonen.” The way they think: if we give them the data, somebody is going to sit down and compare the population of Maekel with Debub and Gash Barka and demagogue it. In other words, it is all our fault that there is no census about Eritrea published for 60 years! Plus, according to the government, all statistics are bad and unreliable—unless they tell the world how great we are, in which case, by all means, publicize away. When The Economist published a report about how Eritrea’s economy will be one of the fastest in the world, Yemane Gebremeskel tweeted a supporter to congratulate him for a job well done in publicizing this wonderful news which (in its executive summary) added a qualifier: we think the government will mismanage it anyway and we don’t expect this to trickle down to the people. Oh well.

Going to our friends, the Ghanians and the Nigerians, while the sudden doubling of their GDP may have pleased the political class, it meant nothing to the average person and was, therefore, shrugged away.

3. WHO and Maternal Mortality Ratio

The World Health Organization (WHO) just issued its annual report. I like WHO because it is one of the few international organizations that issue country reports that are not telling us that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Its reports are always “things are getting better and here are some countries that are really, really doing well.” At some point, WHO is going to be like the March of Dimes, making itself extinct because its mission is complete. (March of Dimes was fighting polio and that malady is largely defeated.) In the meantime, WHO is like all GOs and NGOs, unable to resist the need to create urgency: it its press release, it said that global maternal mortality rates are the same as having two plane crashes with 100% fatality every day. Well. You can read its report here:

Before we get to the report card, let’s see the definition of Maternal Mortality Ratio or MMR. Maternal mortality ratio is defined as “maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.” Just to confuse us, WHO also reports the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMRate), which is defined as “the number of maternal deaths in a population divided by the number of women aged 15–49 years (or woman-years lived at ages 15–49 years.)” Of the two, the more dramatic one is the MMR, probably because it is the one that is included in the UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDG). Specifically, countries have a target of reducing the MMR by 75% between 1990 and 2015.

The 11 Best Performing Countries

I have taken the 11 best performing countries (in terms of reducing the MMR by 75% or more) and added additional data to see if we can find co-relation. The additional variables are continent, governance, and population size.

I added continent only because the press reports I saw said that most of the top performing countries are in Asia (sending us Africans some subliminal message) and, of course, the press reports are, as you will see below, overstated.

I added governance because that’s really the debate between the “We Are On The Right Track” and the “We Are On The Wrong Track” Eritrean political groups. I chose Freedom House’s ranking system because they have been issuing country reports long before it was cool to do so (close to 40 years and, therefore, they are reliable). Freedom House gives a 1-7 rank on Freedom and Civil Liberties (1=best; 7=worst) and then uses this to classify a country as: Free (F), Partly Free (PF) or Not Free (NF.) In short, I included governance to try to see if there is a meaningful relationship between the freedom/liberty citizens enjoy and improvements in their MMR. (Hint: Cuba had answered this question decades ago: authoritarian governments are good at things that require rallying people, soldier like, to a cause.)

Finally, I included population size because, when the report of the Top 11 countries was given, I noticed that it included nations that are tiny. This makes intuitive sense: in statistics, when you have a small denominator, the rate will swing dramatically with small changes in the numerator. Or, as a TV producer once told a guy with a show that is barely watched: “hey, the ratings for your show just came in. Congratulations! Your viewership has increased from diddley to diddley squat!”

Let’s look at WHO’s report card, modified to include the other variables:


Cautious Conclusions

Before you draw conclusions, remember the mad scientist who cut off the legs of a frog, one leg a time, each time followed by the order “Jump!” When the frog wouldn’t move he wrote in his log, “A curious phenomenon. It appears that frogs become deaf when you cut off their legs!”

Let’s put our Mad Scientist hat to look at the MMR correlations:

Mad Scientist 1: The best way to improve MMR is to convert your population to Islam because the best-performing country, Maldives, is a Muslim country. (The other countries on the list are exceptions)

Mad Scientist 2: You need authoritarianism, preferably dictatorship, the kind that will get you 7-7 NF rank in Freedom House, to get results follows. (Bhutan, Capo Verde, Nepal, Romania are exceptions.)

Mad Scientist 3: You need freedom and democracy to improve a nation’s MMR. (Eritrea, Laos, Equatorial Guinea and Rwanda are exceptions.)

Mad Scientist 4: Small countries register fastest improvement in their MMR. (Sao Tome, Belize, Guyana, Djibouti, Swazliland, Mauritius are exception.)

I don’t know what the reason for the impressive MMR is, but my position is: if true, it is great news that Eritrea has reduced its mortality rate because, at the end of the day, that is really what any government should be measured on: how are you improving the lives of your population? Of course, in a country where over 70% of births happen at home, (by the way: did you congratulate your midwife? May 5 was “International Day of the Midwife.”) one may be skeptical, but WHO factors this in.

But there is a reason why this good news is shrugged at by the people.  If a mother’s life is spared, thanks to your policies, but if this same woman was chased out of her own country thanks to your policies and drowned in the Mediterranean, don’t expect the people to thank you for your governance.  It reminds me of an Amharic song that still wakes me up in cold sweat: yematreba fiyel zetegn tweldalech.

Eritrea’s Economy

And what is the point of saving a life if you are going to enslave it?  Unlike the field of health, economics depends on a lot of things that cannot be ordered: free people taking risks to get rewards.  Enterprise.  And how are we doing there?

Well, there is another report that comes out annually that, to me, is the true measure of whether Eritrea is making progress or lagging behind. That is the “Global Competitiveness Report” which is put out by World Economic Forum. It is supposed to tell you where each country ranks in terms of competitiveness which is, of course, the only way to improve a people’s standard of living. The Global Competitiveness Report came out in September 2013 and once again, Eritrea doesn’t not appear anywhere. I mean that literally: you can do a search command and type “Eritrea” in the 569-page and we are not there.

All governments want to hide bad news and publicize good news. What we Africans are lacking are impartial, non-politicized offices that publish statistics—good or bad—whether it harms or supports the government. A good example is the unemployment rates that are published by the Labor Department on the last Friday of each month. Obviously, we don’t have the resources for that but we should make it a goal to have our Statistics office to be free from politics. Otherwise, we will be one of those countries that don’t agree on anything and have no common ground.

The Isaias Afwerki regime has lost the confidence of the Eritrean people because of a series of bone-headed and stubborn decisions.  When confidence and trust is gone, even great news like the one issued by WHO about Eritrea’s MMR is treated with a shrug. And, for that, Isaias Afwerki has nobody to blame but himself.

About Saleh Younis

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  • AMEN

    Dear Amde
    There is a saying in our culture that goes like this :
    Aweqish Aweqish Bilu’at Metsehaf Atba Qoyech !
    I feel like
    It correctly applies to you and your thinking pattern !
    Why ?
    Because… is the reason for saying that…..
    (will be back soon)

  • Amde

    Dear Amen,

    I just want you to know that change is coming. Eritrea the state is not on a sustainable trajectory. Eritrea the nation is haemmorhaging people and is not on a sustainable trajectory. There is no force currently active and strong enough to defeat and replace PFDJ like EPRDF defeated and replaced Derg. There is no concensus among Eritreans on what the next chapter is, whether it should be called PFDJ sans Issayas, PFDJ post Issayas, PFDJ plus Opposition, Opposition minus PFDJ, Technocrats minus PFDJ minus Opposition etc…. There is no credible plan to get to this next undefined chapter.

    The most realistic scenario is the world community steps in before Eritrean state collapse happens. Eritrean state collapse is unacceptably catastrophic in the age of
    Al-Qaeda, where you have a full generation of young people by the
    hundreds of thousands whose primary skill set is military, and they
    don’t have other economic prospects. This cannot rationally be expected
    to occur on the Red Sea, and across the Bab-el-mandeb from Yemen.

    If push comes to shove, the world community will ask the Ethiopian government to manage it because the options are Sudan or Ethiopia. It won’t be Sudan because they won’t deal with Al-Beshir. Not Djibouti (too small). Not Yemen (has its own problems). Not Egypt. Not Saudis. Not Qatar or the Emirates.

    This Ethiopian government will most likely be heavily influenced or represented by the TPLF. So, I would say, you may get your chance to present your views to the TPLF directly in the not too distant future. Perhaps you may feel what you wrote is completely justified. But, the reality is, that is a chapter that is already closing – and best addressed in the history books. If you can safely assume that Ethiopia is NEVER going to abide by the EEBC ruling, what is your next position going to be?

    You probably will take this as bragging or defending the TPLF. I am truly not. The best thing would have been for two semi-normal sulking neighours to let a generation pass so they can lick their wounds and nurse their grudges before warily re-engaging again. But that is not to be. There are really no good options for Ethiopia. Can’t deal with Issayas. Can’t let Eritrea become a Somalia. Doesn’t know who to deal with among the opposition. If it tries to organize the opposition it is accused of meddling. If it tries to be fair and play no favorites – it is accused of being detached or having ulterior unknown motives. Doesn’t want to engage militarily because that will create yet another generation of Eritreans who will have had their paranoias justified. Can’t disengage militarily because a power vacuum is worse than a cold war, so it has to stay on alert. It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for Ethiopia. Something has to break, and whatever that is, it will have no sustainable leg without a significant Ethiopian involvement.


    • Pappillon

      Dear Amde,

      Your warm presence sure enough is gracing the Awate forum not only you bring fresh ideas to the fore but you articulate them brilliantly as well. That said however, I find your argument not so palpable for the very reason that your premises seem to emanate from the assumption that post-Isaias Eritrea will be bogged down into chaotic situation to the point of replacing Somalia in the region. That kind of assumption seems to lack the psychological reading of the Eritrean people. If Somalization is to take place in Eritrea, it will take place with in the “PFDJ” instead not with in the society or the people per se. One of the enduring and binding chain that brings Eritreans together is something of a veneration that was borne with in the fire and storms of Gedli–that is, allegiance and respect to the spirit of the martyrs.

      Isaias has been all along manipulating the chain as the weakest link when the people remained indifferent to his adventurism when they in fact acted so lest the country falls apart. The same spirit will still take hold in post-Isaias Eritrea where they will come together as the preservation of the nation is internalized in their inner self where doing otherwise is considered a betrayal of the people whom they venerate with the highest esteem.



      • Amde

        Hi Pappillon,

        Thank you for the very kind words.

        About my attempts at prognostications, Please don’t take my statements as a value judgement on Eritreans. I do not think Eritrea has the kind of internal political cleavages that tore Somalia apart. That said let me state the following.

        I consider a functioning state a necessary and valuable social good. The absolute minimum a state is supposed to do is to impose order and a system of rules. For a state to function, it will need some minimum financial, human and institutional capabilities. If the state continues to lose these capabilities, then it’s ability to impose order will be degraded, until some other entity imposes its order within that geographic and social space. If nothing takes over then it is anarchy.

        So, what I was saying is a thought experiment if you will. If the PFDJ continues to lose legitimacy AND continues to lose the means to be an effective governing institution AND there are no plausible alternatives, what would be the logical outcome? We have to interpret the Emigration outflow crisis as basically a real-time on PFDJ’s ineffectiveness as a governing institution. Whether that ineffectiveness is by malicious intent or incompetence or dumb misfortunes, It is a system that is demonstrably losing its capabilities to be a state. (I actually think for the PFDJ the refugee “crisis” is not a crisis at all, but a financial goldmine it is despicably milking at every stage.) If the system has the internal means to reverse this trend, then perhaps this is much ado about nothing. But if it cannot reverse it, then it is not too hard to predict the repercussions on ordinary people, especially when it is a one party quasi-socialist state and most livelihoods depend on the government. What desperate people do is then anybody’s guess.

        But for sure, I don’t think it Eritrea will have intractable clannish political schisms as Somalia does. And definitely, before we get to that point, I think the world will step in to maintain some kind of order – even if it means supporting Issayas.


    • AMEN

      Dear Amde
      I am not one who worries about an already dead TPLF
      You can brag all you want if you like but the truth or the
      reality is TPLF as org. is dead already dead for some years
      now. And FYI I am one who happily contributed my share
      in that struggle to kill and bury woyane/TPLF.
      Enjoy the sun !…….&……..Have a Nice Day !

  • Happy 23

    Happy 23 Eritrea! Most bestest Eritrean Independence Day video ever! Enjoy!

  • AMEN

    The need for
    to be wreaked and put a just mechanism in place !
    The Eritrean people has the capability and ingenuity
    of puting his enmies ready for breakfast when his
    enemies like (Tplf/woyane) think of him for lunch.
    That is how he killed the woyane/tplf mercenaries
    operating within our opposition and Awate medias.
    The woyane/Tplf didn’t have any regard for the peace,
    wellbeing and sacrifice of the Eritrean people when the
    US and DIA in collaboration created an inclined plane
    of reality to favour Tplf/woyane followers at the expence
    of Eritrea and its people’s struggle. All they were pre-
    occupied was to replace EPLF with TPLF; Eritrea with
    Tigray and Eritrean history with Tigrian so as to erase
    everything our people and country possess in preparation
    for their future mischiefs and thefts by building faulty state
    governance systems to unfairly benefit themselves in the
    name of majority, this or that endless gimmiks……………
    So their greed and not knowing of what favour has been put on their hands
    by USA and DIA (by unfairly oppressing and denying justice of Eritreans)
    has given them away and the system of inclined plane that has been erected
    to unfairly benefit them.
    The system I refering to is
    the one put in place in year 2000 which both USA and DIA require us the Eritrean
    people to enter dialog while the woyane/Tplf is purposely renegading from respecting
    the rule of justice. This is designed to help woyane/Tplf to have it both ways and deny
    Eritreans entirely by not returning the reality or situation to normalization first which is
    the first true step to do the dialog for peace and justice.
    But any dialog without returning to pre-war normal situation or without having accountability
    to take responsibility of the war either by DIA/PFDJ or MELES/Woyane is futile and will never
    bring peace and /or all the aspirations the people are dreaming of. It is just a wishfull thinking
    or dream.
    Thus we all peace loving people abroad and at home are convinced to conclude and think that
    it is this inclined plane of reality created after 1998-2000 war and the denial of woyane/TPLF
    to abide by and respect rule of justices that has and still destroying all eforts for peace, democracy
    and justice in our country and region despite the persistent and selfless struggle and sacrifices by
    our people, its democratic and nationalistic organizations at home and abroad and all other peace
    loving brotherly peoples. This is what is holding,dragging and draining all the energies and resources
    of our people that is or has been put into the faultly designed or planned and deformedly built system
    of struggle so far.
    (Most probably it is planned by Alien forces and Lies for differnet reasons).

  • Kokhob Selam

    Well, that might be one of the reasons of the reason. I will say it better if you want. it is not because of the war , it all starts with greediness, the king, and Megstu didn’t understand how to lead and were busy in expanding their kingdom instead of using what they have. again Ethiopia is not 100 years old. it was their three thousand years. so we Eritreans were not the reason to say it clearly. Now, let us be practical but should not exaggerate. you keep developing and let’s fight for our democratic nation. and let me assure you Eritrea will take short time from the day PFDJ move outside till it reaches in the stage where Ethiopia is. and let me assure you we will live side by side happy with what we have cooperating for ever.

  • Kokhob Selam

    South, you must always measure it. if Nitricc is there, remember Pappillon is there too. now I didn’t still list others. If you love Eritreans consider always you will face Nitricc with the same blood and flash around. I love Ethiopians while still I face the dirty politicians within the loved people. “kewededu kenenftu ” aydel?

    • Amde

      Hi Kokhob,

      I had never heard that expression “kewededu kenenifTu” before. That was funny but so true.

      Thank you for your poems.


    • Eyob Medhane


      The full version of that adage is “Lijin siwedu ke ne Niftu new”…. :-)…..

  • tes

    Ahlen all,

    Asmara today. A supposed domestic trade that could potentially contribute to GDP, but it is a matter of survival issue for most not a contribution.


    • Amde

      Could be any town in Ethiopia.

      • Kokhob Selam

        I think this is GEBEYA in Addis. but the women look Tigringa speaker. why there are not costumers. and they look wondering too. this all is the mistake of Weyane.

        • tes

          Dear KS,

          While reading your beautifully built poems, I was thinking that you have still the picture Asmara and with that tune, your words were just flowing. But now, I have seen from where your words were flowing. Just are in your mind. Have a watch please the ERI-Tv, but becareful, you should mute the sound, if not you will be spoiled also.


          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear tes, it seems you didn’t understand what I am saying. yesterday, I put a small link video that show the market (see bellow). Pappillon said that is not Adi qeyih but Megele and attached “planet hotel” and said this Asmara. well I attache the 3 years old video of Bahirdar describing it Asseb. now I know the market you attach but ….. I think you understand why I say so.

          • tes

            Dear Kokhob,

            Ok sorry for my misunderstanding. I take back.


      • tes

        Dear Amde,

        The good thing about you is, you are innocent for what ever you say as you do not know what you are talking about. “Ignorance is innocence.” Just from this single 5 word sentence, I can realisze how far you are living in your own ignorant world.

        Stay blessed with your ignorance.


        • Amde

          Dear Tes

          I actually like you. Just get back to me when your testosterone is dialled down a bit.


    • Dawit

      In the picture, no body seems to be (engaged) working. Are they on a break (lunch time)? No customer is visible except the white looking dude on the far left.

  • Kokhob Selam

    yes I know South. this is only to show how much fast Ethiopia is developing while Eritrea suppose to do even better but is going down. back in 80’s I thought the other way round is going to happen as I was expecting democratic elements will not let EPLF lead. unfortunately, that didn’t happen. yet, as Eritrean I am optimistic soon Eritrea will be also develop and those two countries are going to shine.

    • Abinet

      Dear K S
      If I understand you correctly , back in the 80’s you expected us to go down while Eritrea to develop ? Why not both of us develop? If you , the most matured person think this way, just imagine how the average person thinks.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear Abinet, when loved once misunderstand you, some time it is better not to say anything if you find it helpful. I have chosen not to say anything. but please don’t forget to read my next poem about the two brotherly people. TKS

    • Fenomeno

      Based on what would you expect Eritrea to do better? Only advantage Eritrea has would be the connection.

      All other factors are in favor of Ethiopia. Don’t forget that Ethiopia’s leaders were sitting next to Europeans when other African countries were still colonized.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear Fenomeno,

        we can list down what were the advantages for each country back in1991 and check which county had more chances. but that all advantages and disadvantages is just human minds calculation. and at last we can see the developments of each county. in between all those stories we know, there were new changes in political games played. I don’t care about the international games played much as that is not the main factor. I care about the internal games played. every time I think of Ethiopia, I congratulate the late Meles and his friends for their wonderful job. I learn the role of individual and groups is more than what I use to think.

        for the advantage you mentioned “All other factors are in favor of Ethiopia. Don’t forget that Ethiopia’s leaders were sitting next to Europeans when other African countries were still colonized.” everything has advantage and disadvantage. nothing is with out negative and positive but Ethiopian leaders didn’t use the positive side of being friend with European countries. they were colonized indirectly . again they were always under feudalism. becoming independent country is not enough. it is not good to be under such leaders like Haileslase and it is not good also to be under like our DIA. both are useless. Being under Meles was the start of development for Ethiopia. the guy and his administration knew how to deal with their people first and with external forces. they knew how to play politics and put for the advantage of their people while keeping Europeans,Americans and all the world happy. that is balancing, that is living in harmony. the disturbed minds can’t do that. TKS.

        • South

          1960-2001 was the years ethiopia was disadvantage because of the war with you. That is the main thing hold us back but that does not mean the rulers of ethiopia was good.

  • Fanti Ghana

    E&E, the Ethiopian but not TPLF/WOYANE,
    “Actually if our people got the chance it will choose to fight and throw the TPLF/woyanes and restore his countries freedom and Liberty of the people instead of…”

    Are you referring to the “freedom and liberty” of DERG era
    where a mother used to be forced to dance around her murdered child to insure
    her loyalty to the ABYOT? Your lack of vision is staggering!

    • E&E

      Are you trying to compare yourself (TPLF/Woyane) with the Dergue ?
      Dergue was way much better than you even when it was at war with
      Eritrea and Tigray………………it never turned to revenge on peacefull
      civilians who were living in cities and towns. He was at least a government
      though hard liner militant.
      How should we describe your TPLF/woyane ? Dedeb it ? or mafia ? or ………
      Pulling single isolated mistakes of DERGUE will not in any way make you
      as if close to him………………though you wish…………it to be so………….!
      No hitch hicking on Degue’s train please ! Just ride your donkey cart !!!!!

      • Fanti Ghana

        Okay E&E, you keep your train, and I will keep my donkey. fair enough?

    • E&E

      Also I assume that you agree or have agreed with my opinion
      except the one sentence you have singled it out that says liberty
      and freedom. Am I right ? It is not bad also with me that you
      disagree with only 10% but agree with 90% of my points and opinions.
      Still good result !!!
      I am happy and will keep it up !!!
      Ethiopian but not TPLF/WOYANE.

  • AMEN

    Ethiopia might have 90 million people but that doesn’t mean
    they will fight for woyane or to enslave themselves like they
    did it in 1998-2000 which they regret it today. Rather to the
    contrary they will fight woyane/Tplf to topple it instead of Eritrea
    if they got the chance to be armed. No Ethiopian people and no
    Ethiopian killil has interest today to fight other Ethiopian killil or
    Eirtrea and Eritreans. This by some Tplf/woyane is just a scare
    tactic as usuall to get some few Ethiopian supporters.
    Ethiopian society and the country are tired of wars, poverty and
    tyrranical rule and have no interest in fighting Eritrea or any other
    people in the Horn sub-region.

  • Amde

    Hi kibr,

    I saw your comment on mobile, then it disappeared and now it re-appeared again. I had meant to respond that of course that is quite likely as well. I just don’t know if Eritrea has a population control and family planning policies. And for a land that has relatively low population, I am not sure if it needs it.

    Your last sentence though matches the reported pregnancies from Sawa and/or National Service.


  • Kokhob Selam
    • Pappillon

      Hope and Nitricc, I got this. I will handle it.

      Dear Kokhob Selam,

      That can’t be in Adi QeyiH. It must be in Meqele. Here is something awesome going on in Asmara instead.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear Pappillon, Lil…this is not in Asmara this is in Keren Tahtay.

        • Pappillon

          Dear Kokhob Selam,

          As they say, the grass next door is always greener. That said however, is it fair to compare a country with five million people with a country of ninety million people. Maybe not but if anything we are comparing attitudes and visions of the respective leaders. When Isaias’ motto is hung them and hung them high and bury them deep and low, Meles’ motto has always been let the hundred flowers blossom*.

          *The expression may have carried a negative connotation with in the Chinese Cultural revolution but here it is used for what it is.


          • Eyob Medhane


            Your comparison is indeed not fair. First of all, it is much easier to develop a country of five million than a country of ninety million. Though I agree with you about the attitude of the leaders, I would add the attitude of Many Eritreans (particularly) Kebessa Eritreans must change. Belittling every human begin, who is not Eritrean, an attitude that is devoid of humility and very much self absorbed. That attitude has to vanish off of Eritreans to start to move towards realizing their potential. For the Kebessa, well as I always say, this time, just think of your survival into the next generation. It might be too blunt and impolite of me to say it, but I say to all you Kebessa, your slow, methodical and meticulous genocide is well under way. Do what you can to reverse it. Regretting it later wouldn’t do much. This is not time to compare yourself or Eritrea to Ethiopia or anyone. It’s time to save yourself from becoming extinct….

          • Pappillon

            Dear Eyobai,

            I would say, the attitude is fast changing more with in the present generation than the previous generation who takes a pride out of Italian colonization. And of course, it could be not so much cumbersome for a country with a smaller population given all the factors to show dramatic change for the better in a relatively short period of time but of course it is the “hung them high…..” attitude of Isaias’ Wild Wild West era that is doing the undoing. Having said that however, what worries me is the at times overboard obsession I see with in Ethiopians towards Eritrea and Eritreans as they seem to think that it is a high time to humiliate Eritreans as if it is a payback time. I say, that needs to change as well.


          • Eyob Medhane


            On your last point, it is a bit complicated than you put it. Usually, in both cultures (also in the Middle East) There is a culture of tit for tat. Having said that I guarantee you there is ten times of badgering comments that comes to Ethiopians way from Eritreans than the other way around. You would have known that had you visited some Ethiopian websites. In order to respond to that Ethiopians may invoke some pronouncements that can be taken as comments of ‘pay back’ time….

            Moving on I am in bit sad mood today, after I read this an hour ago…

            It’s an interview of one of those white men that provided some phrases to you, which you have turned to slogans. Don Connell. Here is what he has to say on the point I was trying to make earlier.

            “…..Many of the Eritreans coming out are of Christian background and particularly when they move into Sudan, a country into Islamist rule, they find themselves isolated, cut off from opportunities within the country and in some cases targeted for discrimination or worse – the human trafficking operation. [Human trafficking] has involved the kidnapping of refugees, the transport to the Sinai in the past and increasingly now the detention within secret spots in Sudan, where they are tortured and forced to demand ransom payments from relatives living abroad, anywhere from the US to Europe to Israel or sometimes inside Eritrea. These ransoms have run into the area of $30,000-$40,000 dollars so the trade here has become a very lucrative business for the traffickers and a very ugly one for the Eritreans. I think what is remarkable about this is with the dangers of being caught up in this trafficking ring, coupled with the dangers of simply trying to cross the Sahara or to get out through other means, where so many have died trying, illustrates just how driven people are to leave in the first place.

          • Pappillon

            Dear Eyobai,

            Well I guess we need to start with our own self before pointing fingers onto others for Ethiopians seem to be obsessing more about Eritreans than the other way around. That said however, what Dan Connell had to say ought to be taken with a grain of salt so to speak for it is not the first time for the Sudanese people to host Eritreans of a Christian confession. They have been receiving Eritreans as you know since the 60s as such it seems to me a bit of a hyperbole or melodramatic at best to say that Eritrean-Christians short of saying being prosecuted in Sudan. I am not sure if that is intended to corroborate YG’s recent crusade to give the recent exodus from Eritrea an ethnic or religious overtone.


          • Eyob Medhane


            I have no love for Don Connell and your many ‘Westerner’ friends of yours such as that that old lady Michela Wrong (Last name very fitting) who called us all Ethiopians “Savages” in her book. But I see some truth of what Connell has to say. While you, Pappillon, and many like you prefer to be politically correct and afraid to see the naked truth that Eritrean highlanders are mercilessly extinguished, the likes of YG at least have the courage to say loudly about what is really happening. You say “YG’s recent Crusade”, but we see that YG is telling what is really happening. As a devout Tewahido Christian, I weep, instead of trying to be politically correct and appear to look like “Smart”, when I see this……


          • Pappillon

            Dear Eyobai,

            YG has reduced himself into a sensationalist maybe even more of an alarmist where the proverbial chicken running around shouting “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” comes to mind. It is not that Eritrea is completely empty of young people–students are still attending schools; colleges are not empty; young civil servants are still working in the government sectors; taxis and other privately owned shops still have young people running them; engagements and weddings of local inhabitants take place on a regular bases. I am not by all means trying to give a dandy picture of an otherwise tormented nation but to make a point where there is no need of getting carried away with cluttered imagination. YG’s concern is duly noted and taken but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of whipping out a history of dignified people whose pride is rightly centered on the blood that had been shed to bring about an independent Eritrea.


          • Eyob Medhane

            Sorry haftey,

            But sky is falling. It really is. You are talking of the facade. I am talking of the center. The Shopkeepers, the bus riders, the wedding attenders that you are talking about are those, who are waiting for the right time to run away and ready to pay smugglers to ship them over the border or those who can’t afford to do so. Please, try to look past your ‘trying to be politically correct’ vision. imagine the next generation of Christian highlanders. Those who are inside can’t afford to start families to have their heritage continued and those, who are outside are dying in Sinai or in the high seas or they are already out to never to look back and started their lives elsewhere. Hence, there will be next generation of Eritrea without Kebessa. That is ‘Mission accomplished’ of those, who Isayas helped them to have that opportunity fell on their lap. that is what YG is crying about, correctly. He is neither sensationalist or alarmist….

          • Rodab

            Hey Eyoba,
            I know YG told you that you are the only one here at AF to air concern about the plight of Kebessa Eritrea. You’ve taken that to heart and rarely fail to champion compassion on the issue and to lament us on your perceptions of our indifference and what not. But please, be advised that most of us Erispora are directly affected by what’s happening in our country. Just because we don’t go on internet forums and publish what we do/think shouldn’t give you a false impression we are mindless people who have no clue about the dire situations on the ground. We know more and no less. So tone it down buddy!

          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Eyoub, think about it brother.

          • Eyob Medhane

            Think about what? Come on, man. Watch the video clips that Haile provided, and tell me there is isn’t anything to be said about it. I may not be “politically correct”, but not only as habesha, but generally as a human being, I speak and scream as much as I can, when I see my kin across the border getting exterminated systematically in a manner that is vicious….

          • Eyob Medhane


            You are a very smart person. I know you are. I know your heart would sink, when you saw the videos that Haile linked above. You may choose to express your shock in a different way, as we all are different to express what we feel about any sad event. Well, I choose to vent what I fell here at AF with you. What I say has absolutely nothing with what YG thinks or said to me about how I air my concern here. But it has everything to do with what I see a whole generation of people, who have the same culture, belief system (religion), tradition with me getting wiped out. I know you may be ‘doing what you can’, as you said. You have a whole lot more leverage , right and connection than I do to do what you can, because other than language, religion and tradition, you also share citizenship with these victims. But no matter how I feel kinship to them, I am still an outsider. A citizen of an ‘enemy’ country at that. The only thing I can do is to scream, where I can for them. At least give me that chance, instead of scolding me to do so.

          • Nitricc

            I know YG told you that you are the only one here at AF to air concern about the plight of Kebessa Eritrea.
            Hahahahha Rodab telling it as is. Lol. Trust me, at the end of the day, YG will be left with only Tigryans. Every reasonable Eritreans are leaving YG but
            YG’s Ashker at awate forum will do anything to serve his Eritrean master.
            How sad is that?

          • Nitricc

            Eyob your inferior complexity is at work.
            Let me tell you this, you and your race have wronged the older generation to the point of stupidity, don’t you ever expect that kind of bull crap on the current generation. True, some of coward Eritreans may be kissing your rear end but not us and we change to no one. You got 90 million! No problem, we solved you. Stop the 90 million bull Shiite

          • Eyob Medhane

            Hey Little thing

            Don’t you EVER dare to talk to me EVER again. I speak only to human beings and you don’t seem to be one. Now this is for me first and last to tell you. Shoo…

          • Nitricc

            Sure your 90 million is only good for begging for more aid, don’t you ever use it to harass Eritreans. Go beg as always

          • South

            If I show you the new meqele or bahir dar you never sing Asmara Asmara again but we not in a comptition with you or any body.

          • Nitricc

            Who the hell are to tell me I should write and to whom I talked to. You are the lucky aid addicted lazy I have ever communicated so, consider it your freaking lucky day I replay to you. Lemagn

          • E&E

            As an Ethiopian to add a little to your point;
            We Ethiopians and our country Ethiopia is tired from decades of
            destructive war which resulted only on the poverty of our people
            destruction of our society, backward governance and rule of
            tyranny as a result of faulty policies of war within and outside of
            our boarders by dictators who rule our country for their purpose
            of monopolizing and consolidating of state power by sending the
            sons of the people to war and destruction. But this time the Ethiopian
            people has learned the truth and has waken up. And no single
            Ethiopian citizen will die for TPLF/Woyane and their dictatorial rule
            be it aginst Eritreans or other Ethiopians.
            Our state killils and their people have learned about the cost of war
            and its only purpose to serve dictatorial rulers.
            Actually if our people got the chance it will choose to fight and throw
            the TPLF/woyanes and restore his countries freedom and Liberty of
            the people instead of fighting against other Ethiopian peoples in/of
            Eritrea or any other region.
            So Ethiopians are not in any mood of war or fighting. Let those few
            woyanes do so if they want or really are what they mean ; not our
            90 million people. Better if they try to not make bussiness and pretend
            to talk for our 90 million people.
            Ethiopian but not TPLF/WOYANE

        • South

          This is 3 years ago a lot has been changed since then, 5x.

  • tes
  • tes

    Dear Awatistas,

    I am again on EMDHR WORKSHOP 2014 Strategic Thinking on Political and Socioeconomic
    Crises in Eritrea: Implications, Scenarios and Responses” held on 09-11
    May 2014, Pretoria, South Africa.

    Extract from

    Prof. Bereket Habteselase, a distinguished Professor of African Studies and Law at University of North Carolina and former Chairperson of Eritrean Constitution Commission, spoke on Challenges of Constitution Making: An African Experience with Special Focus on Eritrea.

    In respect to content Prof. Bereket mentioned five core values that a constitution has to have. These were:

    1. Democracy,
    2. Stability and national unity,
    3. Human rights and rule of law,
    4. Sustainable development and
    5. Social justice.

    With regard to the later Article 21 of the Eritrean Constitution stipulates the social justice rights of a citizen.

    Good insights.

    Let me stress then on the last point mentioned, the Social Justice (Article 21). Social justice is stipulated as “Rights of a Citizen.”

    Again here, dear awatistas, I want enlightenment.



  • tes

    Dear Awatistas,

    Medrek are on spot again by their seven recomendations

    These points that were recommended by co-founder of Medrek (new phase of PFDJ, U-Turned), Ambassador Andebrahan Woldegiorgis in the recent workshop, “EMDHR WORKSHOP 2014 Strategic Thinking on Political and Socioeconomic Crises in Eritrea: Implications, Scenarios and Responses” held on 09-11 May 2014, Pretoria, South Africa

    The Seven recommendations:

    1. Distinguish between the interest of the nation and the people on one side and that of the regime on the other side;

    2. Cherish Eritrean history and Eritrean liberation struggle;

    3. Uphold national unity and be owners of our solution to our problems;

    4. Value and harness our diversity;

    5. Build credibility with our people;

    6. Be action-oriented ;

    7. Cherish and empower our youth to take leadership.

    Are they solutions that we are looking for or to keep us hostages by romanticizing the lost souls of PFDJ? Your enlightenment is very welcomed.

    *Selam bro. Saay7 (Saleh Younis), will these recommendations have an impact on GDP?


    • Hope

      I think ,these are the issues we have been debating and working hard for–but some of us have been mis-perceived and misunderstood–all along.
      Specifically,these are the issues that I have been dealing with haileTG.
      I would add:
      -Build TRUST among ourselves and compromise so as to “narrowen” our differences–
      -Put First Eritrea and her Interest/National Security as a Nation ,no matter who is ruling and put FIRST the Eritrean people as well.
      -work for a Genuine National Reconciliation..

  • Kokhob Selam

    የትግሉ ሜላ ስልተ ኣካሄዱ :-
    ማ ው ቁ ጥሩ ነው ጤነኛው ከእብዱ ::

    Dear Mr. Saleh here is one of your scientists.

    • saay7


      Brilliant. You need a caption of Isaias telling the tortoise “slow down! I wanna get there but I wanna get there alive!”* You don’t get a perfect score because you have not signed or dated it. 🙂


      *Family Guy reference of snail riding a tortoise

      • Kokhob Selam

        Thank you Saay7. next time I will sign and date it. actually there was a poem but the tortoise was faster and the poem remain behind. I will try to tell the tortoise to Make U – turn but he may not follow my instruction..

  • Bel

    No, you are not naïve at all. Remember, Eritrea’s clear stand:
    “If Ethiopia accepted the EEBC with out any precondition and withdraw its forces in the MORNING, Eritrea is more than happy to sit for negotiation to normalize any relationship, in the AFTERNOON”
    This includes discussion on the give and take of land or finding other ways (Like, open border and free movement of the affected people, and more) to deal the split of families. Heck, as long as it is amicable, voluntary and with out any arm twisting and bulling, then we can negotiate about anything
    You can not be committed to peace more than that!
    The claim that Ethiopia cares more than Eritrea about the possible of split of families is so ridiculous and fake.
    Implementation of the EEBC is the only way to go with this issue. I mean, the ONLY way

  • said

    According UK the guardian newspaper on Monday the Libyan navy said it had saved 450 migrants – mostly Eritreans and Syrians – who were attempting to reach Europe. Over the course of five days last week, the Italian
    navy said 4,362 people – including a newborn baby – were rescued.

  • tes

    Dear House of Stark,

    1. If he doesn’t say it, his logic is saying it. If I pick-point one by one, then, I have to bring all his materials on table and read all. Hope he will publish them in a book form. (Logic)
    2. YG’s solution is to pull back Eritrea to the year of 1962, the date where Hailessilasie crossed mereb and replaced the Eritrean flag by that of Ethiopia. Oh, YG wants to see Hailessilas’s Son or grandson before he is goodbye to this world for good (I heard that the crown is still in UK). YG. is stucked with that year, may be he had handed to Hailessilassie a handful of flowers at that time, like Sofia Tesfamariam, the wicked pfdj cadre.