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A Conversation between Two Professors: A Tigrayan and An Eritrean

At the outset, Prof. Tedros Kiros declares that, in its fifteen years of existence, African Ascent Television Program never had an interview conducted in Tigrinya language, the mother tongue of the host. As such, the viewer can see the elation visibly in his demeanor. What made it unique, the guest, Prof. Tekle Woldemikael, is the host’s childhood friend. Consequently, the conversation between the two scholars turned out to be riveting. Candid. Straight from the mind and heart. The flooding of the memory came to the fore slowly, in fits and starts. One hour later, however, it left, at least, this viewer glued to the chair for a long time as it elicited memories of childhood. The places and spaces the memories of the two childhood friends were cemented in the same places and spaces in which subsequent generations’ memories were imprinted upon; granted, they would be a generation or two at a remove but the same landscape shaped the identity that made them all who they are today.

Now, at the cusp of retirement, the two professors decided to speak-up with open hearts. Both grew up in Asmara. One now identifies himself as a Tigrayan the other as an Eritrean but the respect towards each other runs deep. This is the background from which the story moves forward to social and political discussions from their privileged and accomplished spaces they occupy in the U.S.

What the immigrant story tells about the people of the Horn is that they have that drive to succeed, many of whom do succeed as they make impressive strides in every field of endeavors that they pursue. More impressive is the number of advanced degree holders. At long last, two educators, one Eritrean and one Tigrayan come to the fore to speak truth to ignorance, emit a much-needed light to the doom and gloom scenario the Horn of Africa appears to suffer from. At minimum, what a viewer will notice in the conversation is that these two professors show the creative side of an immigrant experience in the United States where they were able to shine for forty years in the coveted institutions of higher education.

In an interview, Ocean Vuong describes a remarkable book he read in the following way:

“…one of the most powerful testaments of rewriting or repositioning what immigration is on a global scale. And it positions the immigrant in the trajectory of the artist because I think immigration demands a great amount of innovation and creativity. Nobody really survives the process of immigrating to a new country — to America, no less, which is so rich and complex — without being creative. So, I love this book because it kind of pushes creativity and innovation at the center, that immigrants are not just victims who are trying to get by, they are active agents in their own life.”

The two professors have done exactly that in that ever-evolving narrative of an immigrant who arrives to the West to reconstruct life anew in place of the lasndscape he/she left behind as the blank canvas is ready for anyone who wishes to paint it, write, and live in it. For such a narrative to have a lasting impact, however, will require tenacity, consistency, and determination until it gains viewers and listeners if the educated lots’ thoughtful ideas are going to have any meaningful resonance. The change of narrative will require concerted efforts across the board in the written form and in the spoken form to purify the poisoned sociopolitical well in our region. To be sure, the two professors are cognizant of such a fact, which is why they decided to speak up and speak out, one can make a safe presumption.

Meanwhile, sieving through the plethora of social media will show discourse malnourishment; it is rather difficult to fathom how anyone can take the self-appointed analyst seriously when the show starts with eskista – dancing to Tigrinya tune as an interlude. The incongruence between the message being conveyed to the mood the dance imbues leaves viewers in a disequilibrium making the message not worth pursuing. In addition, no ambivalence in the thinking process, no nuanced thought processes whatsoever. The world they inhabit is black and white. No grey area.

The ambivalence and/or the wholesale dismissal of the educated lot amongst us has its own history where Eritreans who showed some disposition to intelligence are summarily accused of being Menk’aE on the one end and Falul on the other. The former is discussed between the two professors in the clip. To this day, in the Awate forum, one sees such blatant dismissal of educated lot in their respective professions. Not only that but the PhDs are also trashed and thrashed by those who cannot even put their real names behind their words when making such assertions as these two professors in question readily do. The hope, of course, is that this time, maybe this time, comments focus on what the two PhD holders who have had forty years of experience in their fields receive some modicum of respect. Disagreeing with the ideas they are espousing is one thing but to focus on their person as a subject of argument is nothing more than ad hominem attack, a mark of incapacity to synthesis, to argue logically, and analytically which requires a possession of certain skills in the art of dialogue.

At long last, educated Eritreans are speaking up and speaking out. “The age of innocence, the age of youth, the age of hope, the age of radiance like roses…” is what it sounds like when the two professors, whose friendship spans to their childhood, reminisce about their upbringing in Asmara, Eritrea.

As memory begets memory not only between the two who are conversing CLICK HERE but also the reader is compelled to travel with them. My own memories were triggered from far and near. One poem that’s cited under the reference was obtained from Negarit 105. The speaker in the poem dwells on notions of why Eritrea lacks PhD holders in the graduation ceremony. This brings the speaker back to the reality of life in the diaspora where more and more Eritreans increasingly possess PhDs. In a culture that promotes armed heroism and mercilessness as an ultimate sign of leadership and manhood, where womanhood’s purpose is to pump testosterone to manhood, all other pillars of society are considered secondary, including education. The educated become the punching bag that can be denigrated, excluded, or are saved for belittlement when political situations demand victims in its midst. Interestingly, a story is related by Prof Kiros in how he went to open a school in Tigray and was rebuffed by one of the prominent leaders of TPLF, which confirms the apprehension of revolutionary generation leaders from educated citizens with PhDs. The kind of stonewalling people faced in Eritrea appears to be no different in Tigray when educated Tigrayans armed with knowledge and wherewithal try to contribute, the scorning by those in power is painful to hear.

Marcel Proust’s (1871 -1922) early childhood as chronicled in Remembrances of things past, admits his recollection of his childhood bordering on an infelicitous, an unhappy experience. Professor Woldemikael and Professor Kiros, however, remember their childhood as being full of hope, full of happiness. Whereas Proust’s was singularly about his individual childhood experience, the two professors speak individually as well as collectively. The collective remembrances gravitate towards other childhood friends. Ato Kassahun Checole, Ato Mateos, Wedi Balilla, Eyob Bisirat, (he was martyred one of them points out to the other), and his brother Solomon is mentioned.

The name Enda Mariam (Prominent Tewahdo Church in Asmara) triggers memories of childhood in Prof Tedros whereupon he recollects of his mother taking him to the church every Sunday to pray when he felt lonely. The conversation, naturally, gravitates to recalling names from their common experience. Thus, Prof. Kiros remembers. Prof. Woldemikael assists in the remembrance process with the name of their Geez teacher. And both professors’ faces beam with warm memories from their formative years. The Geez they learned as children, at least one of them is teaching his own child Geez along the way he is relearning it himself, every Saturday, he warmly acknowledges. The memory of the past is reinforced as the father imprints a memory on his own child through the lived experience.

The memory bank circles back to Enda Mariam of its centeredness not only in their life but geographically speaking as the umbilical cord of the city itself. Prof. Woldemikael brings out the Grand Mosque that’s within a few blocks from the Church, where the bells of the Church and the calls to prayers were the mainstay of their surroundings. The implication being the spiritual spaces and the spiritual sounds that radiated had their own influence in how it shaped their respective identity as the city dwellers. The two are reflecting at a critical moment when Eritrea and Tigray are at the cusp of exterminating one another. The center of the past appeared to have held them concretely. Unlike in “the second coming,” in the aftermath of WWWI, the center didn’t seem to hold, says the poet. Here, the center was the elixir that glued their ethical values, their morals, their being an upstanding citizen of their time.

Such fond remembrances of the past are now juxtaposed to today’s Eritrean children, to the upbringing where they are drafted to indefinite military service, ostensibly, young Eritreans fought two wars in the last twenty years. Today’s childhood appears to have very little meaning, they contend in agreement. When the professors were growing up, they crawled, they walked, they ran around the neighborhoods as part and parcel of their childhood experiences. Today, however, even if they want to grow, the circumstance is such that Eritrean children have been unable to grow the way a child ought to grow under his/her parents’ guidance. How do we unshackle ourselves as a society from this kind of a hopeless upbringing so our children can experience that normal formative childhood the way the two professors had it growing up? The question is posed to Prof Woldemikael, if he could expound upon this as a professor of sociology? This is purposely left for the reader to find out when watching the conversation between the two professors.


Kiros, T. (2021). African Ascent: Tekle M. Woldemikael
Proust, M. (1871-1922). Remembrance of things past
Negarit 105 : ብምልቃም ቡን ተመሪቁ – Trained in Coffee Bean picking – وتخرج في قطف حبوب البن.
See the Tigrinya poem in question beneath the last reference question beneath the last reference.
Yeats, W.B. (1919). the-second-coming

From Negarit 105 by Haile S.

ሰላም ሰብ ዓወተ፡

ምረቓ ተመሃሮ ኮለጃት ኤርትራ

ክትግበር ርኤኹ ሎምቅነ በብተራ
ዘሕጉስ እዩ ክትርኢ ክትቅበል ተመሃሪት ፍረ-ጻዕራ
ውሑዳት መሰታይ ዝኾኑ መማህራን ርእየ ደስ ኢሉኒ
ኣብ ቀረባ ዝፈልጦ ግና ሓደ ጥራይ ምዃኑ ኣተሓሳሲቡኒ
ብዓል’ነ መዓሾ መሃንዘል ኣብዚ ከምዘለና ዘንጊዔዮ’ሲ ኣስሒቑኒ
ዓቕሊ ገይረ ትዊታት የማነ-ገ እንተ’ንበብኩ
ኣብ ዩ-ትዩብ’ውን ዝተወረ ጽን ኢለ ‘ተድመጽኩ
ፕሮፈሶር እትብል ማዓርግ ተሪፈ እንኮ ጊዜ ካይሰማዕኩ
ናብ ጎረቤትና ስግር እንተበልካ
ኩሉ ዶክቲሩ ይውረ ይገርመካ
ፕሮፈሶር በሽበሽ ፈቐድኡ ኢሎሞ ዝጸንሓካ
ኣብ ዓዋተ ካይተረፈ ፕሮፈሶር መሊኡና
ሳላ Hope/Sultan/Paul, እንታይ ስኢንና
ስፍስፍ ኣቢሎም ማዓርግ የቐምጡ ኣብ ርእስና
እሞ ኣብ ዓድና ድኣ ንምንታይ እዚ መዓርግ ውሒዱ
መሲልዎም ኣሕሉቕና ዝተዋህበ ንጸዓዱ?
ወይስ ጠፊእዎም ምሁራትና ሕድሕድ ምንኣኣዱ
እታ ሓቂ ግና ሓለቓ ሃገር ብዓብኦም እዮም ስለ ዘይፈቐዱ
እንትርፊ ጸርፊን ሽዳን ምንኣድ ምምዕራግ ስለ ዘይለመዱ
ይውረ ብብጾቶም ምሁር ዝብሃል ካብ ቀደሞም ምስጸመዱ

ዝኾነ ኮይኑ

ነዞም ክንሰምዖም ዘይዛረቡ ካይሓሰቡ ካየስተማቐሩ
ኣብ ውሽጢ ሃገር ኮይኖም ብጽፍሮም ዝመራመሩ
ምስጋና ይብጽሓዮም ነዞም ዘሰልጥኑ ዘስተምህሩ::

About Beyan Negash

Activist, a writer and a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Language, Literacy, and Culture at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Beyan holds a bachelor of arts in English and a master of arts in TESOL from NMSU as well as a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from UCLA. His research interests are on colonial discourse and post-colonial theories and their hegemonic impact on patriarchy, cultural identity, literacy development, language acquisition as well as curriculum & citizenship. The geopolitics of the Horn of Africa interests Beyan greatly. His writings tend to focus on Eritrea and Ethiopia. Beyan has been writing opinion pieces at since its inception (1 September 2001).

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  • Bayan Negash

    Greetings Awatawyan,

    In a reasonable world where there are reasonable readers who appreciate literature, apparently, do not only visit awate university but pick up an article here and there. The proof, indeed, is in the pudding. picked an article from, if I say so myself.

    • Tkiros

      Hello Beyan,
      You should be honored your work has spread. It is a good indicator of quality work.

      • kokhob selamone2

        Dear Brother Tkiros,

        I 2nd you on this. He should be appreciated and honored for his qualify job…

        I want to see the evidence, as usual I want to clear my doubts.


    • Bayan Negash

      Dear Moderator on Duty,

      Why such a scorn to your own writer, Moderator on duty? Why? You just took away my agency in the way you informed me. It can hardly be called emboldening or empowering either. How am I supposed feel appalled if I don’t know the internal working of permission to republish wasn’t granted, much less sought by the offending entity that raised your ire, which I could see it fuming through my computer screen. Talk about misdirected scorn.


    אמאנייל פּאולוס
    אמאן אמאנ
    סהאלום סהאלומ

    ሰላም ሰላም ዓዋተስ ፡

    ሓርነት ኣግኣዝያን
    ጋዜጣዊ መግለጺ


    ዋላእኳ ናይ ዝሓለፈ ኩሉ ነቐፌታትን ጌጋታትን
    ብምልኡ ንመራሕቲ ፖለቲካ ሃገር እንተተዋህበ ፡
    ብዙሓት ዜጋታት እዉን ብማዕሪኡ ካብ ሃገራዊ
    ሓላፍነቶም ቦኺሮምን ደስኪሎምን ከም ዝነበሩ
    ንኹሉ ሃገራዊ ዜጋ ፍሉጥን ብሩህን ኢዩ ።
    መብዛሕትኡ ዝተማህረን ዘይተማህረን ኣብ ስደት
    ዝነብር ዜጋ ኣብ ምሕላዉ ዉልቃዊ ስሙን ዉልቃዊ
    ረብሑኡን ተጸሚዱ ነብሰ ምክልኻል ምግባር ደኣ
    ምበር ኣብ ሃገራዊ ዋኒን ተሳትፎኡ ኣዝዩ ትሑት
    ምንባሩ እዩ ዝዝከር ።
    ንመጀመርያ ግዜ ምሁራዊ ይኹን ዕቱብ ሃገራዊ
    ተሳትፎ ብአብ ስደት ዘለዉ ዜጋታት ዝተራእየ
    ኣመሪካ ማዕቀበይ አልዒለ ለኹ ኢላ ብመግለጺ
    ምስ አፍለጠትን ወያነ ካብ ባድመን ካልኦት
    ኣካራኻሪ ቦታታትን ዓድታትን ምስ ኣንሳሓበን
    ምስ ወጽአን ጥራይ ኢዩ ።
    ሓርነት ሃ ግእዛዉያን
    ንኡስ ኮሚተ

  • Bayan Negash

    Selam Awatawyan,

    Any veracity to this news I’ve heard from a trusted source that Ethiopia is now demanding any Eritreans who seek to ask for a visa to go to Ethiopia would have to get some sort of clearance from an Eritrean embassy in their respective countries where the seeking entities reside. Talk about a shrewd move on Eritrean part to milk it to a hilt.

    This sinister move from the Eritrean regime is too obvious to mention its intent and purpose. 2% is screaming at me right this moment. Not to mention to effectively sidelining any opposition personalities from visiting Ethiopia, going to Tigray for any political activism, etc. I seldom bring hearsay. But this one seems plausible because the regime stops at nothing to squeeze money out of Eritreans. It’s said, where there is smoke, there is fire.

    • Saleh Johar

      This was a single unknown sources a week ago. It’s not true

      • iSem

        Hi Beyan and Saleh
        Saleh, what do you man it not true? were you able to verify it?

        What I heard was this: If you are an Eritrean and you want to visa to visit Ethiopia and live abroad, they ask you to prove you are Erirean, and if you do not have that PFDJ id card, then you go to the Eri embassy (PFDJ embassy) and ask for a something to prove you are Eritrean, and the PFDJ says, yes, metsikaley Do and they ask you if you have paid your 2% tax.
        So if it is true, it has two purposes as BNB said, but it has third element to it: to filter Tegaru. If that is true, it will be good as Eritreans will take their business to Uganda, and Sudan, and poor Ethiopia will be poorer, So I want them to actually do it and Eritreans who are genuinely against 2% will still avoid paying it and still do their business in other countries and the opposition, we told them to diversify their locations, because it was a matter of time that moments like this would happen
        This is easy to verify by calling Ethio embassy. But I know for fact that they are changing something, until mid june you were able to get a visa electronically or on the airport, even if you have UN blue passport issued by your host country. Now you have to get it in person
        The new king wannna be, pastor AAA is playing with fire, Erirean opposition picked up from Ethiopia, so is now Ethiopia even a sovereign country and that PFDJ mentality was one of the catalyst that ignited the war in 1998

        • Saleh Johar

          I never say anything before I verify. Yes I did as I have been doing after rumors, always.

          • iSem

            Hi Saleh:
            Of course, it was a matter of saying, a rhetorical question, not doubting your two decade rumor busting. I am no been factious or rhetorical now

            Speaking of rhetorical question, I remember something. I took Berhe Y to a beach he has never been and he was telling me about George and Ellen of his fav show and we veered into Eritrean politics and I looked across lake Ontario and saw a boat and pointed to it and asked him: this Eritreans and PFDJ bragging about 1000km sea coast, is it as far as that boat. He forgot everything about our time during that stay, he only remembers that rhetorical question and told the story here and to everyone and brings up that I never been to Massawa when I was in Eri twice. and hence my silly question. I know our eyes cannot see 1000km far. Exclusive for you, if you hear this, it is not a rumor LOL

          • Saleh Johar

            I am sorry but I responded to your question since I don’t know it has part one with someone else. I suggest if you are throwing it in public, provide a context or background to your comment so that the rest of us are updated. I know sometimes we tend to respond to one person but our comment does not explain that.

            I can add something: in the smears of governments everything is political and decisions they make are so. A financial problem, a social, envaironmentsl or economic has to be seen as such. Some immigrants get preferential treatment based on the political situation and some Eritreans with foreign citizenship seek to benefit from benefits meant to Eritrean refugees. Governments have as verify if they deserve it and some may want to verify for legal purposes and then the partisans exploit the legal gap and turn it into a political issue.

          • iSem

            Hi Saleh:
            No. I was not thinking of someone when I asked, do u really verity it. But I agree it was not clear
            the story I told you came to me when I used the word rhetorically. If I had only written : “Of course, it was a matter of saying, a rhetorical question, not doubting your two decade rumor busting. I am no been factious or rhetorical now.”, I would have saved you the effort of the longer comment
            I started my second para with speaking of of…..
            I am not sure I understood you last para. If the rumor has been true, should it disturb us or not: that is if Ethio embassy is asking Eriterean with foreign citizenship for their Eri ID because they were born in Eritrea?

          • Saleh Johar

            Ahlan iSem,
            It depends, there are people who are never disturbed by rumors or lies as long as it serves their agendas. I believe we have enough factual ammunition to avoid relying on rumors. I think a struggle won based on truth is sweeter. Why do you think the PFDJ have the slogan “Serving The Truth”:-) maybe, just maybe, their lies disturbs them so much they had to invent an illusion of truth.

      • Berhe Y

        Hi Saleh and Beyan,

        I don’t know what’s the reason but I know someone (an Eritrean) who needed to go to AA with Canadian Passport that he had to get clearance from Ethiopian embassy.

        The rumour I heard (the reason) the Ethiopian embassy then send a request / check and validate the ID (Eritrean is valid or not with the Eritrean consulate. Apparently as per rumour, to prevent non Eritrean (with fake Eritrean ID cards) masquerading as Eritreans.

        There was no o demand from Eritrean consulate paying 2% tax or any other fee.

        • iSem

          Hi BY:

          “…..who needed to go to AA with Canadian Passport that he had to get clearance”
          Do you mean get clearance from Eritrean embassy?”
          How about for those who have Canadian passport and no Eritrean ID, do they treat you as Canadian or Eritrean, I mean Ethiopia. How about if you have Eri ID and you say, you do not have it, would the Ethio know, they maybe comparing notes with PFDJ

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,

            I don’t know the details but the idea is “as per rumour” to compare notes…

          • iSem

            Thanks BY:
            But what you heard, was if you have CPassport, you the Ethio embassy asks you to get clearance from Eritrean embassy?

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,

            No, the embassy (Ethiopian send your ID to Eritrean embassy) to confirm its valid. If it’s fake, they keep it:), Eritrean embassy.

            If you don’t have ID, the embassy will get you one (provided you pay 2%) hahaha.

            I think it’s prevent those Assena inspired NTTN from going over to Tigray and creating alliance :). Hahaha

            This is all rumour don’t that my words for it… but it make sense to me… if indeed there is fake Eri IDs created in Ethiopia… which doesn’t surprise me

          • iSem

            Thanks BY:
            I heard the same, an Eritrean with Travel Document had to go to Ottawa. I heard same rumor but I thought it does not apply to cpassport holders.
            You are correct its purposes is:
            1. To prevent opposition members
            2. To collect 2%
            3 To weedout Tegaru
            4. catch fake Eri ID, Tigranas masquerading as Eri (which Ethiopia and Eri has the right to crack down). But this is inflated by PFDJ to tell the world that the swell of Eritrean refugees is really exaggerated as most of them are Ethiopians. The virgin of Virgin or Asmara Rose propagated it ad infinitum
            NTTN? what is that??
            And, it is hard to go to Tigray from Addis anyway, they can go through Sudan. I know border is closed but you can do anything in Sudan if you have “wasta”, connection and money.
            There is no Assena inspired, it is called anit-PFDJ, the opposition, justice seekers, freedom seeker, Eritrea feeling the pain of Trigrayans during their pain of rape, torture, by EDF and ENDF. Or otherwise knowns as the Boko Haram of our region. Assena can be criticized for their false reporting, but they are firmly anti-PFDJ and they are on the right side of history. I know your were sort of kidding, but sort of is enough for me to go on and on LOL.
            Ethiopia embassy had the audacity to ask me my Eri ID and ask me to prove am Eritrean if I do not have ID, even if I am Canadian citizens (this is nor right, if it is true, it is against Canadain Eritreans). I thought they ask you to go the the embassy of Eri and ask you for verification, get a letter or something. This is even worse.
            About the rumor: there is a saying one Eritrean language that goes like this: “eytqemedet eitTsene” (it is in Blin) SGJ can translate LOL

            If this is true, Eritereans shoul boycott Ethiopia, a country made richer by Eritreans, I do not like prof Asmerom Leggese but I am itching to quote him about a screw driver (BY: a joke as I know latterly, like Sal your humor is dwindling) and even the dwindling comment is a joke. haha
            BY: You are allowed to say Uffoy or UFF depending what language you are suing 🙂

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,

            You know the more the PFDJ makes harder life for Eritreans, the more Eritreans defect (in thought, sprit and benefit of doubt) the better. Remember we start with 1% and creeping up slowly to the 99%.

            NTTN, I will not tell you what it is. I don’t want to start another front. Already said Uffay…

            I said to Abi, Abiy Ahmed is becoming more like IA instead of making IA like Abiy (when he originally started).

            Look what happened so far
            – Bank / limit access to account
            – He can’t wait fir 2% tax
            – Soon I think Sawa national service will be coming
            – soon will start kicking out NGO and other partners
            – BiSftrina will become the Moto

          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            You mean Ethiopia will have national service: what it will be called Jimma?
            Is there limit in bank access in Ethio?
            Listen you already started a front, kab saasaka teqqotsatse
            NTTN: let me make an educated guess: Nhana Tigray, Tigray Nhna, educated guess

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,


            Jimma will be nice and green and lots of water. IA lives in ancient Greek times and wants to build the Spartan Army. Watch the movie 300 and see the similarities how they train the Eritrean young from early age. And Denver what he said about the Italian army during colonial times….

            So my guess is they will be a harsh and dry place, to make them go through hell..

          • iSem

            Your encryption was week:-)

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,

            There was no cipher all in the clear.

            Yeah, they changed the currency and also implemented limit and deadline. May be part of the conflict that was brewing with TPLF

        • Bayan Negash

          Selam Berhe Y.,
          It’s been so contradictory stories, anecdotal ones at that. This is the problem with our so called Third World, that no consistent policies on anything they do.

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Beyan,

            I don’t think there is actually a problem with third world countries. Countries like Uganda actually have very efficient governments that are transparent.

            I heard this story that blow my mind..there was this Eritreans who wanted to open a business in Uganda (restaurant) and they went to the minicipal to get a permit.

            When they went to the office, they told them to go see the head since this is a new business. They had brought extra cash thought they will need to pay for bribe.

            The official said to them, welcome to Uganda and I am glad you are starting a business. Your people are very hard working and they are welcome to do business and we are really happy to host you.

            Now since you are starting the business and you have other expenses to take care off, we will defer any tax payments for the next 6 months until you get on your feet.

            Good luck on your business…

            This is a true story, I may have added to the exact conversation but it’s really true…

            Now imagine in the land of PFDJ….and compare it…

          • Bayan Negash

            merHaba BY,

            You know how the tendency to generalize creeps in our language. The story you tell is an illustration and anecdote to my blanket statement. I stand corrected on that. I should know better than to make such a universal statement. Many thanks for not letting my statement stand without bringing an insight that will make me be less nonchalant, more prudent.

            BTW, I will come back to your entry of Enda Mariam later in the evening. You brought an angle from the lived experience that I found to be a compelling read. I may have my share of the Derg school system when I last attended it, when I entered seventh grade.

          • iSem

            Hi BY and BNB
            BY is correct Uganda is more open to business, that is why you see lots of Eritreans doing business there and even some I know left Europe to do that. And is much, much better than Eritrea. No comparisons.
            The story Berhe shares, I believe it, but it may be an exception of a honest department run by a head with integrity, but there are other counter facts that happen in Uganda that I know:
            You have saved good change in the bank and one day you go there to do business and the some chunk of it is gone, you notice and you ask the teller, she tells u go to hell, I do not know.
            A policy chief abducts an Eri business man and at gun point forces him to drive out of the city and asks him to give him lots of money. The business man is savvy, as many are, he carries with him fake checks, he writes a check to the police chief, police chief shoots him and goes to cash the check, of course it bounce and the investigation was still pending, tangled in maze of Uganda burearcracy
            So still, Africa, in general is not out of the woods
            Even Ethiopia under TPLF was more business friendly and open to Eritrea than Eri, but many Tigrayans abused their power and connection to bring trouble to Eritrean business owners. Case in point, an Eritrea open a thriving rest in Mekelle, a Tgirayan asks him to be his partner, Eritrean refuses, why would he want a partner, he doing well on his own. Tigrayans tells authorities that his shaebiya, and he got arrested. later the Eri is released but his business was in shambles
            The idea of ownership and the beauty of laws is not indelibly enshrined in the laws and minds of a lots of African countries, until they do that, we will see repeat of the wars that are almost pat of our DNA, so let us hold of praising them until they deserve it. SA? zooma is prison. Sudan, forget it
            By in large the continent remains government of patronage, not of laws.

          • Abi

            Eritreans did exceptionally well during the occupation years. They continued to do even better during the first 7 years of freedom. Their success abruptly ended when their brethren wanted to keep the cookie jar all by himself. Oops!
            Their occupiers must have been angels!!!!!

      • Bayan Negash

        Thank you Ustaazna SGJ!

  • Haile S.

    Selam Beyan and Awate people

    Some notes on Enda Maryam & Asmara, history & architecture:

    Beyan, the two professor’s childhood memory revolves around St Mary’s church. St Mary church (enda-Maryam) was mentioned in this forum quite few times for one reason or another. In honor of the childhood of these two gentlemen, their enda-Maryam friends (dead and alive) and the forumers who consider enda-Maryam as a statue of Asmara, allow me to say few things about this church, a church that happens to be one of the landmark at the edge the beautiful Hamasien plateau before the Italians and of the city of Asmara now.

    To begin with, the name Asmara or originally arba’te(four)-Asmara, is said to have originated from harmony (asmera) of four communities who came to this flat plateau of Hamasien from different places as listed below (1).

    1 – Asmǝ, saho speaking Asawǝrta, from Akkälä Guzay.
    2 – Sǝrǝnsǝr Tigre speaking from Sämḥar.
    3 – Šǝlälä from the town of Wǝqro in Tǝgray.
    4 – Gǝrättom Beǧa-speaking group of Bäläw

    This origin of the name of Asmara is what has been orally transmitted from generation to generation. More than anything else, this harmony that established Asmara demostrates the melting pot nature of the city since its foundation.

    More interestingly, there is a possibililty that the enda-Maryam church itself might be the source of the name Asmara. Indeed, the author (1) cites analysis of a Geez manuscript in a collection now in French National Library (BNF) mentioning “wǝstä betä krǝstiyan zäʾǝgzǝʾǝtǝnä maryam zätǝssämmäy asmära” or ውስተ ቤተ ክርስትያን ዘእዝግትነማርያም ዘእትሰመይ ኣስመራ (transliteration mine). The author says Asmära läMaryam was the name of the church as the above manuscript shows and argues that the city’s name came from the name of the church (ዘእትሰመይ ኣስመራ).

    The enda Maryam church is said to have been built in the 6th century around same time as Debre Damo, whose church architecture is similar along few other churches in Eritrea (Debre Libanos, now replaced by a different one) and Yiha church in Tigray, an architecture typical for this region (1, 2). The original architecture of church of Asmara resisted centuries of hardship until its demolished and completely replacement by another in 1920 and then by the existing one in 1938. The original building of before 1920 contained different segments added at different periods. Following its demolition, few fragments of the original material still remains in the Asmara Museum. Most of the wood and stone works that could have been preserved were unfortunately dumped (1, 2). When the Deutsch expedition visited the area, it was delapidated and Enno Littmann was only able to reconstract a sketch of the foundation. Fortunately few photographs taken before its demolition remain. The first being that taken in 1893 by Mabel Bent the wife of Theodor Bent, a courageous lady who accompanied her husband everywhere he goes including Debre Bizen, inadvertently transgressing the No-Female-Zone of the monastry to the chagrin of the monks upon whom heavens really fell that day. Imagine the poor monks discovering one of the two visiting whites was a Woman! The monks cried and immediately accompanied her down the mountain beyond demarcation line (3). The other photos of enda-Maryam were taken by the Italians and can be viewed on Wikipedia by searching enda mariam cathedral Asmara and then clicking the Gallery. One needs to zoom to appreciate the architecture of the very old scarcely standing church. This very old and one of the unique churchs can also be considered a martyr of abuse of the notorious Martini (Ferdinando) who coined upon the church a derogatory terms like Monkey-head (Wikipedia). Furthermore, Martini looking at a traditional instrument of music (ጭራ ዋጣ), he threw his unhinged sarcasm saying “this curved thing is to violin as St Mary church is to the Florence Cathedral (4). He failed to appreciate that the ጭራ ዋጣ is more synchronized to our ears than his violin.

    One of the early books mentioning this church is that of Castanhoso in his narratives of the Portuguese expedition to Abyssinia in mid 16th century (5). He mentions the Portugese warriors resting near Asmara where there is a church left in ruins by the moors. Although difficult to know the extent of the damage, it must have been rebuilt in the original manner with alternating stones and wood laid without use of a mortar, where slubs of protruding round wood are placed at regular intervals at every stone-wood transition (the monkey-head appelation of Martini). Decades afters Martini, the Italians when building housing complex (huts) called the Blue Village on a hill surrounding Asmara in HazHaz for their indigenous army (Ascaris), they erected a large office complex in the center inspired by the the “Monkey head” architecture (5). The building still stands untill today and cannot be easily distinguished from an ancient north-Abyssinian church for those knowledgeable about this type of architecture.

    Thank you Beyan and the profs. እዚኣ ወድሓንኩም


    1) Lusini G., Asmara in ancient and medieval times: About the hidden story of a capital city. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 2, 2018, pp. 183-195, 2018
    2) Leroy J., L’ Éthiopie: archéologie et culture. Brouwer, 1973
    3) The Sacred Cities of the Ethiopians. James Theodore Bent · 1893
    4) Ferdinando Martini. Nell’ Affrica italiana: impressioni e ricordi · 1895
    5) The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1541-1543 as by Castanhoso. Richard Stephen Whiteway · 1902
    6) Barrera G, Triulzi A, Tzeggai G. Asmara. Architettura e pianificazione urbana nei fondi dell’IsIAO, 2008.

    • Bayan Negash

      Selam Haile S.,

      Our residence historian brought forth a formidable historical angle of one of the icons, a landmark, a spiritual space that shaped many generations of Eritreans who were born and raised in Asmara. Like its sister landmarks, the Cathedral, and the Grand Mosque, Enda Mariam as it is endearingly called by its residents, who knew has such a rich history? I surely knew nothing more than the perfunctory aspects of it that one learns from the word of mouth that passed from one generation to the next.

      There is nothing more gratifying than to see someone who deeply understands, respects, and makes every effort as you just did to broaden the knowledge base using an article as a departing point. This is when a writer says, by golly, my efforts were well worth every minute I spent constructing the piece instead of taking seemingly innocuous point as if it was a central point of departure to make a mountain out of a molehill. You are truly a kindred spirit, Haile S. Please don’t stop from gracing this forum by your insatiable appetite toward history, culture, tradition, and our humanity. You just elevated the human-side to us all. Thank you immensely for such a treat this early morning. You surely made my day.

      Hey, who knows, you may prompt for someone else who may take an initiative to help us learn about the other two landmarks of Asmara, namely, the Grand Mosque and the Cathedral.

      • Haile S.

        Selam Beyan, kindred spirit,

        We follow examples, and you are one.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Hailat-S,

      This is an amazing historical expose of Asmara, Arbate Asmara, and Enda-Mariam. This is a class of history in itself, that should be placed in the front page of Awate. Now, if you don’t mind could you pls compose it in an article form, to be placed in the front page (to have a permanent place in the Awate archive). It needs only an intro, a little expansion in the explanation of the story, and a summary of the title you chose for it. Thank you for the scoop from history.


      • Bayan Negash

        Amanuel and all,

        An enthusiastic seconding of the motion. Researching and accessing such gem of important information can easily be buried in the archives of DISCUS, which we all know is rather difficult to unfurl at the time of need. Part of the reason why I was encouraging for MM to think of committing his poems in a book form.

      • Haile S.

        Thank you Emma,

        I will work on it and see with Awate admin.

    • Berhe Y

      Dear Beyan and Haile S.,

      I was want to say that I really enjoyed the conversation of the two gentleman. It was a delight to listen such honest and open conversation with great deal of respect. Even though I have not much to add (as Haile S.) but few things resonate with me deeply, specially with regards to my childhood and some of the topics that has been discussed here in the past.

      Enda Mariam School
      – When I grew up, Enda Mariam school was not considered top school (among the private schools avaible at the time), I think may be the Italian affliated Catholic schools probably have taken over. The schools such as La Salle, Comboni, Santa Familia, Santa Antonio, Sitawyan and Amanuel school, before the nationalization of those school during the Derg times were considered much better.

      The school had elementary school, but it served mainly to give access to students who use to attend the public school (end mengisti) but failed in the examination exam (grade 6 and 8) who they use to kicked out of the school if they failed. It also use to serve students who wants to repeat matriculation (those who failed) to pass on the first attempt.

      Race, Religion,
      – In the past I have had very harsh criticism when I said there was “no systemic racism” in Eritrea towards others from Tigray or any other place as we know it means today. I wrote about my experience growing up and the families and friends that I know. I was told that I am “denying” and “failing to admit” the inherit racism that existed in our society. I know there was some tname calling and looking down towards some “some people” who came for employment and people calling them “names” and all. Some people said, that’s the inherit cultural racism that exist in our society. But I am glad to hear the two very well established social scientist speaking on their experiences that, there was a class differentiation but not racisms towards others.

      Tegadelit / Sadism
      – I always wondered why IA, who was born and grew up in Asmara with all the permillage the city and the society has to offer has become so cruel in denying the same childhood and joy he had. This puzzled me a lot, as everyone I know who grew up in Asmara in particular have deep love for the city and the childhood that one enjoys growing up. When I see the way my children grow up (even though it’s probably the best one can hope for in the west), I personally think the kids grow up like they are in prison. They are always in the watchful eyes of their parents, the school, the police and the whole system as there is so much worry of safety etc. In Asmara is total freedom, where time is spend between school, home and neighborhoods and playing for the most part. ጣዓሞት ንበልዕ፤ ኩዕሶ ንጻወት. He said we had and we enjoyed childhood.

      Those who come as leaders from Meda, we think they are like us but they have changed. They become something else. I think hearing this from the Dr. really answered what puzzled me for a long time. Why don’t they allow the children to be children.

      • Bayan Negash

        Selam Berhe Y.,

        Interesting read. You captured some of the fall-out of Derg’s approach to education that impacted certain schools to be relegated to a second rate educational hubs. It was the Derg’s or the Ministry of Education of the time that decided which schools would become recipients of students who received what kind of a passing grade. It wasn’t necessarily that that particular school had no infrastructure to excel but that in their “infinite wisdom” the admins at the Ministry of Education decided what kind of schools they will become. I doubt there was an inherent weakness in the schools themselves is what I am trying to say.

        The class distinction the two professors made makes sense because if you remember about two months ago, there was some sort of a press conference in which memir Amanuel Sahle went on to give detailed description what a young woman having said at the border. In fact, I will find it and I will repost the relevant part here and the rest in another thread that Haile S. has raised about who built Enda Mariam? Partially, here is Memhir Amanuel Sahle’s account

        “ሓንቲ ኣብ ጥቓ ዶብ ኢትዮጵያ ዝዓዳ ንእሽቶ ኤርትራዊት፡ ዶብ ሰጊራ ናብ ኢትዮጵያ ትኣቱ። እቶም ኣብቲ መዓስከር እተቐበሉዋ ኣሕሉቕ በቲ ንእስነታ ተገሪሞም፡ ምናልባት ስድራኣ ከመርዕዉዋ ምስ ደለዩ ሃዲማ ዝመጸት ከይትኸውን ብማለት ነቲ ንቡር ጥያቔታት የቕርቡላ። ንሳ ዕድሜኣ 14 ምዃኑ ድሕሪ ምሕባር፡ ኣመጻጽኣኣ ክትገልጽ ከላ ግን ከምዚ ዚስዕብ ትብል፥ ካብ መርዓ ኣይኮንኩን ሃዲመ፡ ክሰግር እየ ደለየ። እቶም ኣሕሉቕ ድማ፡ ብኸመይ ደኣ እቶም ወትሃደራት ኢትዮጵያ ደው ዘየበሉኺ፡ ብምባል ይውከሱዋ። እቲ መልሳ ከምዚ ዚስዕብ እዩ ነይሩ፥ ረሳሕ ክዳን ተኸዲነ፡ ዓጋመ መሲለ እየ ተሳጊረ፡ ስለዚ ገለ ኣይበሉንን!! እቲ ዝሃበቶ መልሲ ነቶም ኢትዮጵያውያን ኣሕሉቕ ኣዚዩ ኣተሓሳሲቡዎም። ትምህርቲ ህግደፋውያን፡ እንተ ዘይቀተለስ፡ የዕነኒ።”

        It is surprising that the narrator chose a young girl to be right from the border vicinity who manages to use a slur. This surprising border dresses an Eritrean in clean clothes and those across (in Tigray) in dirty. Cynicism gotta kick in here. At a time where even very young children are leaving Eritrea, it is very surprising to see the refugee handlers thinking of this young girl as a run-away underage bride from a forced marriage. Pun, of course, intended to hit its target – double entendre of a novice type. That Eritrea exercise still exercise marriage of underage children clearly intended for foreign consumption on the marriage story and diaspora Tigrinya speakers on the other. The story doesn’t add up. It was concocted to dirty the highlander Eritrean (ምምርሳሕ ከበሳ).

        In the discussion between the two professors one is able to find one plausible explanation, which is class because even Tigrawot who made it to an upper class in Asmara were using the racial slur in question, were hiring domestic help from Tigray region. I wonder if it is the same 14 year old girl who has now become a POW and was interviewed as an undercover army intelligence officer we’ve seen the video clip of late???

    • Saleh Johar

      Selam HaileS,
      Thanks for the story. I am sure you know the many politicized narrations around the story. I know three different narrations about the same story and the naming of Asmera. It’s very sensitive and I would rather hold to it for the moment. I even have a city map of the area and how it was developed. Suffice to say, Alula camped n that place and drove away those who were there. It later became a church.

      Enda Mariam is the name of the church just like enda Mikael or enda Gabriel. No special affection to the name except Mariam is held at a higher level than the angels.

      The architecture is identified cal to the Yemeni architecture where they build several labels of stone walls separated by the bonding logs. That act like cement slab reinforcements Check the maareb palace in Yemen and you will see how identical it is. All big building were built in that style on both sides of the Red Sea iIncluding the Axumite architecture.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Abu Salah,

        Hailat brought the story with reference, that we can go to the references to check the authenticity of the story. Can you bring them up, If you have other alternative narrations with references, so readers can read the sources and make their own judgement.


        • Saleh Johar

          There’s more to scrutinizing references that can be written by different people ascribing to references coming from one ideological camp. For example, you can’t depend on PFDJ sources only to ascertain the objectivity of a narration. I don’t doubt what HaileS wrote, I just asked if he had come across different narrations. He can answer that or anyone who knows another narration, may share it if they decide. I have decided to withhold my input until I iron out some sticking points

          • መሃንድስ-ምዕባለ

            Phew…ነብስኻ ባ ኣውጺእካያ!
            ግዜኡ ኣይኣኸለን ትብል መሲሉኒ ኔሩ።
            ከመይሲ /ዞም ነቐዛት ‘ንዳ ህግደፍ ከምኡ ክብሉ ከእርጉና ደልዮም።

            ዋላ…. ኣሞይ ትዕግስቲ ናብ ካርቸሊ ገጻ ክትሓልፍ ዶ ር ኢኻያ ኔርካ?
            ኪድስከ ረሓቕ ከምዚልካ ምሕታት ግዜኡ ‘ይኮነን።

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saleh,

            The reason I asked you to bring them up the alternative narration, is precisely, we as readers to scrutinize all the references as presented by the history tellers.


          • Saleh Johar

            Ahlam Emma,
            And I said I have more to “scrutinize” before I can present what I have. It’s work in progress . Pray I get the time to finish it.

      • Haile S.

        Selam Saleh,

        – I don’t doubt the existence of variants of stories on the origin of the word Asmara. Of course the women of the communities as being the initiators of the harmony is in the background, thus I didn’t mention it. I long to hear your sensitive story.

        – I also would like to know which map of what period you have. I have a city map of 1910. If you have that of 1895, the placement of the village of Asmara and its church is similar to that of 1910. These maps are also shown in the below referenced book.*
        Having said that let me come to your other sentence. You said “Alula camped in that place and drove away those who were there. It later became a church.” I am not sure what you are saying. If you are saying the church was placed or moved to another place, I don’t think so. Based on the maps mentioned above, it is the Asmara village, villagio Indigena (ኣርባዕተ ኣስመራ) that was displaced from around the church to where it is now by the Italians. Indeed the plan of 1913 showing the expansion of Asmara prepared by Enginner Oreste Cavagnari no longer show the Asmara village where it was.* In place of the village new tracing of streets and buildings are shown. The church’s placement appears where it was. In any case, that church photographed by Mabel Bent was very old scarcely standing. I checked quickly the Maareb architecture. Although there are similarities, the out-of-the-wall protruding wood logs and their placement in the northern-Abyssinian churchs appears unique.

        – The interest of Enda Maryam church is because not many churches of that architecture persisted for do long or were present in the area. I am not sure if the Enda Gaber church of Gejeret was of the same make.

        – I agree with you the described church architecture is an Axumite architecture. The described church walls seem to reproduce the curved stone architecture of the Axum Steles.

        * Barrera G, Triulzi A, Tzeggai G. Asmara. Architettura e pianificazione urbana nei fondi dell’IsIAO, 2008.

        • Bayan Negash

          Selam Haile S. and SGJ,

          In the video clip that I mentioned when responding to Berhe Y., memhir Amanuel Sahle did say this: Asmarinos Tigrawot built Asmara’s Church emulating the one in Aksum as well as the mosques in Asmara. I suppose there is a contradiction here worth exploring. This is coming from an erudite Asmarino who now says he personally supports the idea of Tigray-Tigrinye as a nation. I didn’t make this up. It is in that video clip in his own words. If need be it can easily be unearthed from the archives or by searching it in the YouTube.

          • Haile S.

            Selam Beyan, SGJ and all,

            Thank you Beyan for bringing that video. I went back and found it under a piece of 2 months ago. It was a 22 minute and 44 second video entitled ኣብ ክልተ እሕዋት ህዝብታት ዝተፈጥረ ቅርሕንቲ ታእዪ መንቀሊኡ. You can start listening from minute 19, but at minute 19 & ~30 seconds Amanuel Sahle (AS) said the Tigrayans who came with Alula and settled in Asmara built the Maryam Zion church….’as well as the Asmara Mosque’.

            This church is many centuries old that it needed constant repairs. It is conceivable it could have been in bad shape at the time and people did some work. However, what the respected AS said in nothing more than an overzealously formulated false information deliberately made for a purpose that doesn’t serve well any People.

            In addition to the references I cited previously, here is what Felix Rosen says in his book: A german embassy in abyssinia 1907. A rare photo of the church and the famous stone bell accompanies his paragraphs. Google translates in the absence of our German-fluent Hashela😊.

            “…. The most interesting monument in Asmara is the ancient church. Instead of the round shape customary today, it has a square plan, and the walls are constructed in a way that has long been practiced nowhere: they consist of mortar-free layered rubble stones, between which beams run. In this primitive building, a model of the old Ethiopian architectural style seems to have risen, because the multi-storey monoliths in Aksum show, as the German Aksum expedition was able to prove with surprising certainty, images of the same construction. The old age of the church of Asmara is also expressed in the fact that its floor seems to have sunk several steps; all around the dead may have been buried for more than a thousand years, which enhanced the surroundings. Between the graves and in front of the low façade is the belfry, on which three well-coordinated bell stones hang, which, when struck with a stick, sound like a bell…”

            P.S. to Emma, I will try to bring these together as a piece after a vacation time (books not with me).

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Haile S. and Beyan,

            I am glad my comments to the video shared have triggered to deeper look at what seems to be coordinated efforts.

            I think it’s good to give the benefit of the doubt but this requires a well thought out and researched counter arguments before it can lead to unwanted escalation, division, hate and eventually to conflict.

            I believe the gullible among us are telling us “don’t worry, IA is our number one enemy” but I think they fail to see how much this is going to damage the psychic of our people and our confidence to confront it head on.

            This is the type of disinformation that gets used to destroy societies and their self worth and put those in receiving end to “question and hide” their own history and culture when it’s questioned.

            Dear Haile S. and Beyan and by extension to Fanti, T.Kifle and other people from Tigray, and rest of AT community:

            If you can spare 30 minutes of your time, can you please search falfasa YouTube video titled “ሓዳሽ ኮሚዲ ብደራሳይ አምኑኤል እያሱ::”

            I ask you to watch so that you know and understand what some Eritreans feel and think today with regards to the conflict and how it’s being played out. And have deeper thoughts without being defensive that:

            1) we are smoking something and you like to have what we are having and we are all delusional and nothing to worry about
            2) you stand by the words and you agree and you see this is true and it will boil into something else in the future, and that it’s our plan. I don’t expect you to say that …. 🙂
            3) ስቅ መሪጽና if you end up fighting among yourselves, that’s what we would like to see.

            Please with all respect, I really do not want to hear from other Eritreans assuring and speaking on behalf of the people of Tigray.

            And please psychoanalyzing me and telling me this is all in my head and I need to get out of my fear.

            I know IA is our number one enemy and we want to fight him and we are and trying to avoid other fronts but not because I am living in fear.

          • Haile S.

            Selam Berhe,

            I am always admirative of your genuine effort to come out and spell the dangerous wrongdoings and sayings. Keep that ideal of fighting spirit without which everything said could have been accepted as-is.

            You said “I think it’s good to give the benefit of the doubt but this requires a well thought out and researched counter arguments before it can lead to unwanted escalation, division, hate and eventually to conflict”. Precious!

            I watched Falfasa’s a week ago video when it came out. It is right on target. I am against all these theatrical propaganda including the one Beyan reminded us this morning when replying to you. I had summed it up saying if these stories are true then our childhood story of ተንኮለኛ ከበደ is also 100% true. How do we fight it? Exactly like what you are doing. By calling it out. You are not smoking and definitely don’t need phsychanalysing! These are instruments used to hit when one doesn’t have ideas to convince with.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Haile S., Fanti, Hashela, SGJ, Beyan and all,

            Sorry for the delayed response, I was a bit busy with work.

            I really am glad that we discuss this openly and hopefully those who matter make a note and think of a peaceful future.


          • Fanti Ghana

            Selam Berhe Y,

            Well, this is easy. I agree with falfasa’s completely!

            His message is important. In fact, this kind of exchange of grievances and/or advice are what will help all of us become aware of our respective actions, correct and improve, and grow together as we go forward.

            If I must say “something” at all, and I don’t mean to dilute his core message, but I would say that there is no conspiracy against Eritrean Muslims by Tigrayans, never was, and never will be.

          • Saleh Johar

            How I hope every other Tigraway, nay ever human being was like you. Unfortunately that is not the case. True, there might not be an official declared conspiracy against Muslims, but mot of the time, the undeclared prejudice are more damaging that the official policies, particularly when seen from the popular culture and its perennial collective memory. Personally, the elite has not helped in that field, in fact they use that destructive prejudice to advance their narrow agendas.

            Let’s see our experience during the last four or five years. As the fanatics and extremists fascists were openly agitation anti-Muslim and anti Eritrean campaigns, a few officials were hosting the leaders of the fascists and providing platforms and cover. I can’t say of everyone, but in the last four year, it pains me t hat you are the lone voice of reason in that aspect. And such experiences are difficult to scrape from our collective memories, particularly when they are ignored by those who should have openly condemned in not faced it head on.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selamat Memhir,

            It is sadly funny but almost half a century ago when Marxism-leninism was our guiding ideology, religion was simply dismissed as “instrument of imperialists” and religious related issues or questions dismissed as backwardness, and it seemed a non-issue at the time.

            I agree with you that there has been missed chances for open condemnation of those who fuel or instigate outrageous claims and religiously motivated innuendos.

            I hope that with the proper awareness and reflection, those who may be knowingly or unknowingly aiding or spreading bigotry will be made aware and corrected in time.

          • Hashela

            Selam Fanti

            A long chain of direct and circumstantial evidence strongly indicates a clear pattern of TPLF’s agitation that targets a key segment of the Eritrean population.

            Some selections:

            – THM and Assena, key media with which TPLF communicates with its friends and foes, invite well-known islamophobs and Agazians. These people are allowed and provided a podium to spew their venom.

            – During the most recent war, TPLF spread the rumor that EDF is stealing and destroying religion documents from Tigrayan churches and monasteries. TPLF subliminally made sure to connect this and the following accusation.

            – One of the highest military personnel of TPLF stated that war atrocities are committed by Eritrean soldiers of from the lowland of Eritrea.

            – Assena spread an “interview” of alleged POW, a 17 years old Eritrean muslima who demonstratively wears a Hijab, and claims to have acted following the command of Wedi Halima, her boss.

            A persistent pattern of contradicting communication spread by two different actors and aiming at two diametrically opposed consumers.

            Some samples:

            – Getachew Reda said that TPLF will march to Asmera, if needed. Debretzion assured the international community that the removal IA/PFDJ is a matter of the Eritrean people.

            – Tzadkan said the TPLF respect Eritrean independence (and I assume by extension he means that TPLF respects Eritrea’s territorial integrity). At the same breath, TPLF issued a precondition for a cease fire. The precondition includes Eritrean withdrawal from Eritrean sovereign territory.

            – here at Awate, Samuel advocates for a march of TPLF to Asmera. You advocate for a moderate position.

            I leave it you to draw the conclusion.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Como Estas señor Hashela,

            I am well past my scheduled time, but I will be back tomorrow and edit this. adiós.

          • Hashela

            Hola Fanti

            Me estoy recuperando de las tensiones de mi caminata y disfrutando de una copa de vino y un jugoso bistec. Después de un día de descanso, la caminata continuará.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi HaileS,
            At this moment I have not formed a concrete view of the history in question, there are gaps that I am trying to fill before I can present anything that I cannot defend with enough certainty. But all narrations are equally explained and I cannot support any of the narrations. So far it is sounding like three distinct narrations from three different perspectives each advancing its interest and bias. But as you know, there are factual evidences on the ground and that couldn’t have come from narration because it’s there. Study the neighberhood and check the houses that were established there since long ago. The grand mosque stands on an old one there that served a community, which community is that? The area build there and whaI can give you one lead: look into the founding of modern Akhria (hint. Aakhir eyya–it’s way out there meaning it’s far. Far from where?) and when did it become a major neighborhood and why. Also, one narration says that Berhanu was the treasurer of Alula who established himself with his followers in Geza Berhanu. Where did they move from? Include Abba Shawl and Geza Banda.

            The above are points I collected and could help–the other narrations are also equally defensible but we never had our own scholars investigate and research to come out with a single (hopefully non partisan) narration.

            As you can see, there are many holes in all narrations and that is why I am hesitating to say more and as a cholar, you will understand my reservation. Thank you

          • Haile S.

            Selam Saleh,

            It is always a pleasure conversing with you on history. Now you mention other sectors of the city that had also attracted my attention. I read somewhere Berhanu was from somewhere in Hamassien. Anyway more interestingly, Geza Berhanu was a dwelling of the portuguese in the 16 or 17 century. For whatever reason, I personally associated the word AKria ኣኽርያ with “rent”. May be because we were renting a place when I was a little boy፡ ጥቓ እንዳ ቡሉስያን ፌርማታ ኦቶቡስን😁
            A lot to dig time permitting.

          • Saleh Johar

            You are getting closer and closer. The police station is in the compound of my fathers’ uncle…. the big gate a meter or so apart form the police station door. Behind it is where the famous end Ustaz Mohammed Beshir (Al Dia’a school) was. I spent many beautiful summer vacations around Akhria.

    • Berhe Y

      Dear Haile S. and Saleh,

      I enjoyed your discussion on enda Marian church and it’s old architecture. Haile S. when you mentioned monkey head i remembered watching some documentary of the ancient churches in Ethiopia.

      I searched the video and found what appears to be not so good quality copied version:

      It’s a bit like but if you start at 40 minutes he goes on describing the church architecture of monkey-head in Debre Damo church.

      Looking at the old pictures of enda Marian it resembles Debre Damo church today.

      I also think the currency architecture was created to look like the old church interns of the design but the actual finish of the church.

      Considering how Debre Damo is still exist today (was created in the 6th century) I think enda mariam. May be not far off.

      • Saleh Johar

        Hi Bethe,
        I thought the present Enda Mariam was build by the Italians! Are you saying something else?

        • Berhe Y

          Hi Saleh,

          I was responding to Haile’s comment with regards to the church (before it was rebuild). I checked at the pictures he mentioned that was taken (off the old church).

  • Bayan Negash

    Selam Awatawyan,

    The last time I listened to VoA was when Daniel Rezene was debating a Higdef supporter. Daniel is was respectful whereas the other gentleman, forgot his name, was full of scorn. When he knew he had no good counterargument he would resort to insulting.

    Well, this time, VoA brought two individuals one Eritrean and the other Tigrayan. An exemplary debating style where both of the contending individuals held their ground, countered one another’s viewpoints with some modicum of respect, but stayed on the subject that the moderator initiated by way of questions. There is a lesson we can all learn from these two gentlemen irrespective of whether we agree with the points they try to make. At least, each was well informed and used well reasoned arguments to advance the cause he believed in. Each clip is about 26 mins long. The central subject of their debate is characterized as: “ኩነታት ትግራይ ናበይ ገጹ የምርሕ” by the host.

    • Haile S.

      ሰላም በያን፡

      ትሃድን ሎምቅነ ዝርርብ ሰላማዊ ኣርኣያዊ
      ተስፋ እንዳሃበ መንፈስ ጠሰስ ዘብል ዘርዊ

      ቀጽሎ ቀጽሎ ቀጽሎ ቀጽሎ
      ንፋስ ኮይኑ ‘ተበተኖ ንዝሸፈነና ጠቐረ ጸሎሎ

      • Bayan Negash

        Many thanks, Haile S.,

        Some links need as much exposure as possible. In the previous that Amanuel Hidrat shared in a different thread I brought it under SGJ’s piece because the two appeared to me were in conversation with one another.

        In this one, what I observed is the civility with which the two debaters were making their points across without having the need to insult one another. The moderator was very effective in the way he distributed the allotted time. Other than that, the guests made it easy for him to conduct his hosting business.

        Too, worth mentioning here is, I tend to share links even if I have disagreements with some of the ideas being espoused, particularly, If the person(s) are making their points across based on the their version of their truth (not facts, facts cannot be altered, truth, however, can jive to the worldview a person upholds with which I may have very little agreements). So, if a person’s truth has some baseline logic, I have no issues listening and trying to understand where they are coming from. Glad you made the time to listen to my recommendation, Haile S.


  • Bayan Negash

    Selam MM,

    I’m shamelessly going to appropriate it as a preamble that I will have to read every morning or every time I sign on to awate forum until it is internalized. In fact, I will print out and put it next to Haile S.’s poem I posted below the references. Thank you for this poignant and transformative message.


    ቃል ይኣቱ
    ዓዋተ ከማዕርጋ
    ብዘይከውን ቆይቊ
    ኣብ ሓሬት ከይርግርጋ
    ‘ንተኸኣልኩ ቅዱስ-ሓሳብ የምጽእ
    ‘ተዘይኴኑ የእዳወይ ጥምር
    ኣፈይ ዕብስ ከብል ይመርጽ

    ከመይ ዝበለት ዩኒቨርሲቲ
    ናይ መጻኢት-ሃገርና ርስቲ
    ብ ከማይ-ወዲ-ኸማይ ክትባላሾ
    ንመን ክሕሾ
    ስለዚ ቃል ይኣቱ
    ከይርብሽ ገዛ-ዓዋተ ከየርስሕ
    ጠቓሚ ርኢቶ ‘ተዘይኴኑ
    ዘይ ሃናጺ ከይሰርሕ
    ቃል ይኣቱ


    • መሃንድስ-ምዕባለ

      Selamat Dr. Beyan,
      Sorry, didn’t see till now. Thank you for the compliment!

      • Bayan Negash

        Merhaba MM,

        Believe you me, MM, I understand it completely. It is not easy to keep up with the forum. I am as culpable in this regard as anyone else. I miss a lot in the discussions. For example, I regret it now but over the years I was inconsistent in my reading said’s notes regularly because I convince myself that I would read it later to never return to it at all. There are others that I want to answer to in detail and never seem to get to it as is the case with KS2’s now three months old question.

        At any rate, I am now following said as closely as I can because there is so much that one can unearth from the wealth of information he seems to possess, historically, politically, socially, etc., and lucky for the forum he shares it willingly and enthusiastically.

        So, MM, I appreciate the courtesy. All I can say to you is I hope you will make the time to piece together your poems and commit them into a book form. This way, it will be memorialized in eternity for the subsequent generations that follow to read it and can understand where our minds and hearts were when our young nation was going through endless traumas of one man’s making.

  • Solomon

    Selam Bayan Negash

    “The two are reflecting at a critical moment when Eritrea and Tigray are at the cusp of exterminating one another.”

    With all due respect sir Eritrea and Tigray are not at the cusp of exterminating one another. It is Eritrean barbaric army in collaboration with fascist Abiy Ahmed army and Amhara expansionist army trying to exterminate Tigriyans by invading Tigray and Tigriyans are fighting hard not to be exterminated in their own land.

    • Metshaf Jigninet

      Selam Solomon,

      “Eritrean barbaric army”

      Correction: DIA’s army….

    • Bayan Negash

      merHaba Solomon,

      There are enough threads that are dealing with the war in the forum. Belaboring it here will be too repetitive. Let me take your assertion a step further. TPLF is the angel in the war. It deserves Nobel Prize for behaving in utmost moral standing following the rules of engagement, peacefully at that.

      Time permitting on your end, please watch the one hour conversation between the two professors and see if there is a thing or two that you care to share in the forum.

  • Bayan Negash

    Selam Awatawyan,

    The hyperlink in the article does not work if you try to watch the video clip that the article is based on, without which a reader will be at a loss. In the reference, however, you should be able to copy and paste it for there, too, it is jumbled up with another reference.

    Better yet, here is the link:

    • Haile S.

      Selam Beyan and all,

      This link starts at ~55 minutes. You need to slide it back to 0 minute to listen to the whole conversation.

    • Tkiros


      This video was delightful to watch.

      “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” That is what Martin Buber said.

      It is important to see intellectuals having dialogue and reminscing about Asmara and intellectual environment.

      The Eritrean Gedhli generation leadership has taken the Eritrean spirit away to the wilderness.

      It is job of the intellectual to restore the Eritrean spirit. I don’t mean Eritrean intellectuals who hide behind books or jargon but those committed to applying their knowledge. The heroic intellectual is one committed to changing the world by apply knowledge.

      I think the topic of University in Tigray is good point. You know university are the heart of country. In 1918- Hebrew university was established in Palestine about 30 years before the state of Israel. They planted a university before even having a country.
      The model is university in Ghana.
      This Gobez left a job at Microsoft to start a university in Ghana

      It is not about money or resource. It is about a vision and taking action.

      The Talmud says
      “He whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, what does he resemble? A tree with many boughs and a few roots. A wind springing up, uproots it, and overturns it. But he whose deeds exceed his wisdom, what does he resemble? A tree with few boughs, but many roots. Though all the winds in the world come and blow upon it, it cannot be moved.”

      • Bayan Negash

        Dear TKiros,

        And what a delight to read your take. Indeed, memory between two childhood friends was used as a vehicle to convey, if that trajectory was followed, our region would’ve been a humane place to live instead of this endless and traumatic war that we are struggling to disentangle ourselves from.

        Glad to see you saw what I saw in the demeanor of the two intellectuals. The sheer heartfelt pleasure was visible in their respective faces. We need more of this type of conversation and less of the political analysis type that’s being beaten to death in every social media for the last four to five years. I wish there would be a moratorium by all self-appointed social media “experts” to take a week off from talking and read and listen to the experts, so these social media personalities come back armed with fresh knowledge. They are all getting stale. I sift through so many video clips before I settle for one or two, because there isn’t anything new anymore. They are repeating the same thing over and over – it is just different people are using different words to prescribe to their audience the same prescription.

        What you said about universities and the ghedli era Eritreans who whisked away the Eritrean spirit is so true. As if the latter was not enough, the only higher education institution was whisked away from an entire generation of Eritreans as well. It is why I get so furious at the blunder of TPLF because when Eritrea managed to build 361 prison facilities, Tigrayans were shining a light on the generation that came post the revolution of 1991. There was, for once, a change in the trajectory of Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia where educational institutions were popping up everywhere in the nation. I don’t have the data, but I firmly believe Ethiopia in general, and Tigray took advantage of such an opportunity to offer its people to build places of higher learning. It’s this kind of a setback that will take such a long time to rectify post the current war that’s – hopefully – now winding down.

  • Haile S.

    Selam Beyan,

    You are NOT a man of snafu, but definitely a man of sniffu, able to unearth the delicious truffu. Thank you for digging out this truffle imbibed with tasty conversation between an unconventional delightful philosopher who inserts philosophy into music and arts and a sociologist who, among others, analyses Eritrean nationalism and its usage against itself philosophically.*

    * Tekle M.Woldemikael. Pitfalls of Nationalism in Eritrea, in Biopolitics, Militarism, and Development: Eritrea in the Twenty-first Century. Edited by David O’Kane, Tricia M. Redeker Hepner. 2009.

    • Bayan Negash

      merHaba Haile S.,
      Many thanks for bringing the issue back to the two accomplished professors. I wish we listen more and say less, read more and write less sometimes. The social media has become a space in which every ignoramus and their momma are ready to fire away on a subject they have no clue about. My major objective for highlighting the two professors is this tradition of trashing and instead of giving deference to our educated lot… The trashing of our elders continues unabated. In that spirit, allow me to bring to awate forum three items that are worth listening to. Three of the stories have a great deal of lessons we can glean from.

      1. China is celebrating its century mark as a party. And look where it stands in the world as an economic powerhouse. Thirty years has elapsed since independence, look at where these former TPLFs and former EPLFs have gotten us? Back to the only thing they know: war.

      2. The struggle that African Americans continue to endure in this country in every sector of its institutions was brought forth in higher education with the controversy of tenure track appointment of Nikole Hannah-Jones to University of North Carolina (UNC). Mind you, this is an accomplished woman whose 1619 project won her Pulitzer prize. Ironically, the very prize became a sore eye to the UNC’s hiring committee. At first denied her tenure track. When the controversy reached a boiling point because students at that university made some noise; the committee backpedaled and offered Ms. Hannah-Jones the tenure position. She decided to go to one of the many historically black colleges and universities, namely, to Howard University.

      I cannot help it but wonder when Dr. Kiros was motivated to open a school in Tigray, I presume, for he doesn’t say where he wanted to open. The conversation didn’t even reach there. One of the very leaders of TPLF whom we hear now are being referred to in glowing terms was who discouraged him so he can go back packing where he came from, to the US where he has a comfortable life. It wouldn’t dawn on the the TPLF leader that this professor was going to bring a wealth of experience and along the way quality of education that every child deserves. At any rate, listen to the conversation with this context in mind. Here is the intro to the talk: “After some controversy, Nikole Hannah-Jones declined a position at UNC and will instead join Ta-Nehisi Coates at Howard University. NPR’s Leila Fadel speaks with Coates about their new roles.”

      3. For the first time in Spelling Bee history a black girl wins it this year. If Prof. Kiros has had a chance to establish a school, perhaps, one of his students might have been a Spelling Bee winner. Who knows what he had in mind. At any rate, here is the intro to the one minute audio: “14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde breezed to the championship on Thursday night. The only previous Black winner was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica, the only champ from outside the United States.”

      • Haile S.

        Selamat Beyan,

        Thank you! I will listen to these. No one refuses truffles, an allergy to them is rare.

        • Bayan Negash

          Selam Haile S.,

          BTW, I try to give the timeline of any clips I share. Combined, these audio files are no more than 12 mins. You know NPR is efficient. They know how to crisply present their messages across.