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Achievers Who Make Eritreans Proud

Considering all the demoralizing news coming out of Eritrea one would be hard pressed to rule out Eritreans as mainly refugees and under-achievers. A demoralized and damaged people. But time and again Eritreans proved to themselves and to the world that, given a natural chance, they can excel. And excelling they are, in so many places and in so many fields. Take a look at the many refugees who made it alive, and who in a few years have established themselves! Some are pursuing serious education, others are building their life.

Most of the time we focus on the heartbreaking stories because we are so preoccupied with our people’s predicament in Eritrea. We tend to forget what our siblings and children are doing. They are pushing our tilted Eritrean heads up and inflating our chests with pride. All the time forcing us to walk with confidence.

If not for the flood of the bad news created by the Eritrean regime, it would have been a time for a sigh of relief: we have something to show for our pain and suffering. The closure of the single university in Asmara did not break our people’s will to seek and pursue education. And what better is there to show than an educational achievement, and excellence? Ignorance keeps nations stuck in destitution; education is the secret that picks nations up and offers them a better life.

When I talk to our young, I jokingly tell them that I will not recognize their achievements if I don’t see a Dr. attached to their names–that is me. Considering the available opportunities, educational excellence should be the yardstick. And today’s story has inspired me to think of an idea about  featuring Eritrean achievers. I will tell you about it towards the end. But now, let me present to you Dr. Samah Ahmed Saeed.

The last time I saw my young relative Samah was in 2000 while I was preparing to leave Kuwait; she was a young teen starting middle school and I wouldn’t have recognized her if we bumped at each other in a street. However, I had no doubt she would make something of herself–she was raised by a caring and decent family. Indeed, her father Mohammed Saed, and her mother Neima Emnay, should be proud of their achievements, as I am. Samah’s older brother is a medical doctor practicing in Kuwait; she has attained her educational goals. Last January she received her doctoral degree–in engineering at that!

Her story is featured on the New York University of Abu Dhabi, and on the Kuwaiti newspaper AlAnbaa in an article by a dedicated Kuwaiti friend of Eritrea, Ustaz Yousif Abdulrahman, who affectionately referred to Semah as “the Eritrean child of Kuwait.” Ustaz Yousif also congratulated the Eritrean people for the success of Samah, Hamid “Awate’s offspring.

Dr. Samah “received her bachelor of science from Kuwait University in 2008 and her master of science from the same university in 2010. During her master’s studies she began working with Ozgur Sinanoglu, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi, who became her adviser when she began her PhD.” She “spent her graduate career between Abu Dhabi and New York. She completed her coursework in Brooklyn at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, and her second year conducting research in Abu Dhabi.” I wish all the best for Samah.

Incidentally, I am starting it here today, but if there is a volunteer who would take the task of featuring Eritrean achievers, it would be great for all of us to celebrate our achievements. There is a section at waiting to be presented by someone who has passion for inspiring stories. Identifying the rest of the achievers and contacting them will not be difficult. Any takers?

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

Born and raised in Keren, Eritrea, now a US citizen residing in California, Mr. Saleh “Gadi” Johar is founder and publisher of Author of Miriam was Here, Of Kings and Bandits, and Simply Echoes. Saleh is acclaimed for his wealth of experience and knowledge in the history and politics of the Horn of Africa. A prominent public speaker and a researcher specializing on the Horn of Africa, he has given many distinguished lectures and participated in numerous seminars and conferences around the world. Activism was founded by Saleh “Gadi” Johar and is administered by the Awate Team and a group of volunteers who serve as the website’s advisory committee. The mission of is to provide Eritreans and friends of Eritrea with information that is hidden by the Eritrean regime and its surrogates; to provide a platform for information dissemination and opinion sharing; to inspire Eritreans, to embolden them into taking action, and finally, to lay the groundwork for reconciliation whose pillars are the truth. Miriam Was Here This book that was launched on August 16, 2013, is based on true stories; in writing it, Saleh has interviewed dozens of victims and eye-witnesses of Human trafficking, Eritrea, human rights, forced labor.and researched hundreds of pages of materials. The novel describes the ordeal of a nation, its youth, women and parents. It focuses on violation of human rights of the citizens and a country whose youth have become victims of slave labor, human trafficking, hostage taking, and human organ harvesting--all a result of bad governance. The main character of the story is Miriam, a young Eritrean woman; her father Zerom Bahta Hadgembes, a veteran of the struggle who resides in America and her childhood friend Senay who wanted to marry her but ended up being conscripted. Kings and Bandits Saleh “Gadi” Johar tells a powerful story that is never told: that many "child warriors" to whom we are asked to offer sympathies befitting helpless victims and hostages are actually premature adults who have made a conscious decision to stand up against brutality and oppression, and actually deserve our admiration. And that many of those whom we instinctively feel sympathetic towards, like the Ethiopian king Emperor Haile Sellassie, were actually world-class tyrants whose transgressions would normally be cases in the World Court. Simply Echoes A collection of romantic, political observations and travel poems; a reflection of the euphoric years that followed Eritrean Independence in 1991.

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  • Tesfa Mehari

    Heartfelt Congratulations to Dr. Samah Ahmed Saeed. An inspiration for all young Eritreans to acknowledge Education as the gateway to change and development at personal and societal level. Well done.

  • mansur

    CONGRATULATION be proud mahammed saeed and my sister neima emnay from mansur emnay

  • dawit

    Good News for all Eritreans, Sawa boys did it again, they are No. 1 in Africa! THE Eritrean National Cycling Team ranked first place at the International Cycling Tour of Setif in Algeria. Read more at

  • tes
  • Saleh Johar

    Actually spying is a secret act. Why do you want to bring your spying to the “knowledge” and attention of those you are spying on? I have a feeling you wanted to say investigating. Right? If so, we understand spying on awate’s intentions are pretty vague, but leaving that aside, what made you start the spying adventure and what did you find? I am curious and I want to know. Please tell us.

  • AMAN

    But at the same time I would also like to congratulate
    you ( Awates ) for taking back the lead of our country !!!
    Congratulations !!
    victory to the people !!
    DOWN with PFDJ & WOYANES !!

  • tes

    I appreciate you when you write, “…with a single ticket …” You know more than any body what will happen after his landing and he doesn’t need two tickets. Honest L.T

  • tes


  • Mordochai

    Writing about the atrocities of the regime makes thousands of young Eritreans to flee the country blindly, but articles about such an inspiring people and inspiring story could make them to aspire for the bright future. Keep on writing such an inspiring story. God Bless you Abundantly Saleh Gadi for this beautiful article. Almost all Eritreans are really disillusioned with what is going on Eritrea

    • Saleh Johar

      Thanks Mordachai, I need all the blessing there is 🙂

  • guest

    Thanks AtoSenay. Good adice. Just because Esayas regime favors christians in government paid positions ( 96% non-muslims ) doesnt really reflect the academic or technical capabilies of eritrean is just because the regime has been so victious with and women alike. That is why muslims are always underhired in any governmental jobs.

  • Hope

    Congras our Lead Example!
    Kudos to the family ,who brought you up!

  • selam

    الخبر السار هو دائما لطيفة. أننا لا ينبغي أن يكون إلا عن الموت. في بعض الأحيان مثل هذه الأخبار هو جيد لصحتنا.
    رجو أن تفهم

  • selam

    Thanks for sharing this good news , we will make it to the top. we can not be just about sea and desert .
    Dr.SAMAH you make the whole Eritrea proud.

  • Hayat Adem

    Thank you Belay. Not at all, the intention was to spice and magnify her achievement not spoil it.

  • Hayat Adem

    Thanks for this:
    This is a heart warming story. March 8 is not far behind us. I was tempted to run a comment complaining to Awate for letting March 8 pass unnoticed. Then I held it back thinking if I wouldn’t supply a story myself I had no reason to blame others. But now with the above story, I’ll take it as a compensation. Proud of you, sister, keep sprouting.
    Dr. Samah Ahmed Saeed’s certificate is in engineering. And this unrelated recent story I heard came to my mind- DR Engineer Samuel Zemichael of Ethiopia. The story is unbelievable that a fake Dr and a fake Engineer person was able to deceive everyone including the head of the state, President Girma. So, I was a bit jelous of Ethiopia’s educational achievements but I guess, minus the fake actors and plus the real Dr Engineers of ours like Samah, may be we are not that far behind.

  • ismael

    Congratulations Dr. Samah. Achievements of our young generation on that level console their fathers who sacrificed their opportunities and careers for the sake of them. Thanks Saleh for introducing such brilliant persons who make their families and fellow compatriots proud. Your initiative fulfils one of the missions should dedicate itself. Well done, Saleh.

  • Fnote Selam

    Congratulations to Dr. Samah and family. We are proud!

  • Kokhob Selam

    Congratulations, excellent example,

  • Tzigereda

    Congratulations Dr.Samah!

  • dawit

    First let me Congratulate Dr. Samah for the great achievement that makes every
    Eritrean proud regardless of our political stand, supporters and opposition to the Eritrean government.

    Next let me also congratulate Mr. Gedi for breaking the taboo of for writing an article on Eritrean’s achievements. For so many years AT blinded by hate of one man PIA and PFDJ
    never wrote so many achievements by young Eritreans in Sport. Take for example
    Cycling and Long distance running. Eritrean cyclists as individuals and groups
    have been achieving great results in Africa and Europe as Chmpions. Those achievement
    never recognized by AT. In contrast if Eritrean athlete or Soccer team defects from Eritrea it is a ‘Seber News’. There are several Eritreans achievers like Dr. Samah and many from great
    universities, like Yale, Harvard, MIT etc earning PhDs in various fields Engineering, Medicine, Law etc. .Let me introduce you to one Eritrean leady who has achieved extraordinary achievement overcoming great handicap of being blind and deaf! Her name Haben Girma Kidane. Her parents roots are from Keren, Eritrea, who migrated to US. With her parent’s
    effort using assistive technology for the blind and deaf she was able to achieve
    education and graduated from college and finally accepted at Harvard Law School
    and graduated with Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. After successfully passing her bar exam in
    California, Attorney Haben works for a Law Firm in California as advocate to handicap people.

    The White House recognized Haben Girma as a Champion of Change on February 26, 2013 and
    met President Obama. She gives speeches throughout the US and the world. She recently visited Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian government recognized or claimed as an Ethiopian, Well, my be they were blind to see the color of her eyes. Haben like her name she is a pride of all Eritreans, but her great achievements overcoming natural handicap is an exemplary person for the whole word including Ethiopia. She is the Helen Keller of our era, but the truth is she is an Eritrean descent and her origin is Keren Eritria.!.


    • dawit

      Correction the name is Mr. Gadi and not Gedi, sorry for the typing error

      • Hope

        Welcome back dawitom and great points ;and am anxious to read Johar’s response.

    • Saleh Johar

      Thanks Dawit,
      Please recognize that prejudice creates perception; perception is difficult to change. Here is one for a starter:.

      But then, those who are sponsored by the regime (willingly or unwillingly) get enough coverage: Haddas Eritrea in three languages, TV, Radio, etc. WE tend to focus on those the regime would not consider. And what do you think we are struggling for? Isn’t it to celebrate Eritrea? Perceptions. But seriously, would you ask the regime to give coverage to achievements by Eritreans though they oppose the regime? Now there are more issue that requires attention,media coverage is abundant regardless who does it. Would you think of other immediate and serious matter?

      • dawit

        Thanks Saleh.
        Yes I remember Meb’s coverage by AT and I wrote few comment at that time, I thought that was a positive step, but soon it all dried up. Now you came with interesting reasons for your coverage. If a story is covered by Hadas Eritrea, then AT should not cover it. In that case would you say Meb’s coverage was a mistake by AT, since the same story was covered extensively by all Eritrean Govt. outlets?
        Your second question for me to ask the government to give coverage of activities of the opposition groups? Well I don’t have access to the people who are responsible Eritrean news outlets. Perhaps you missed your chance for such privileges when Minister Ali Abdou was in charge, I read somewhere AT had a direct access to him.(Just for a joke)
        Certainly I will agree with you if the Eri Govt did cover every Eritrean Achievements regardless of their political affiliations.
        Now your last question, “Would you think of other immediate and serious matter?”. Off course there are many. The one I would consider on top of the list would be the question of UN Sanctions against Eritrea. I have written on this issue before and discussed it with you, and we have an opposite stands, you support it and I oppose it. When UN sanction Eritrea, militarily or economically who suffers? Of course ordinary Eritreans, poor and rich alike, but the burden is more harsh on the poor and the young. Is it possible for regime supporters and opposition to agree in opposing such Sanctions on the country? Can we agree in opposing the occupation of Eritrean sovereign land by foreign military forces?
        For the sake argument let us think the opposition can achieve change in Eritrea, whether by “Weeding out” or “Dismantling it” or through “Democratic or Undemocratic Military Coup” with or without the help of foreign governments like that of Libya or Iraq or Syria. What kind of Eritrea will they inherit? Can the PFDJ will lay down its arms peacefully and walk out of power? Can that be achieved without serious damage to the infant economy and the few infrastructures the country has or without serious cleavages of the population or Somalization or Ethiopianization of Eritrea ? What good can be achieved of a ‘free election’ under a gun behind your back? I seriously doubt it.

      • Hope

        Ahlen Ustaz Saleh,
        Thank you for this Heart-Warming Article.
        The only time Eritrean have become “Under-achievers” is during the PFDJ Era.This is considering the exodus of the Youth with a great potential to achieve.Despite all the hassles though,our own Youth ,in fact has achieved beyond imagination under the PFDJ Rule.
        Besides the MDs,the DDs,the Surgeons,we have even Scientists in Eritrea.An Eritrean Medical Student’s New Math Theorem is one example.
        I partially agree with dawit’s assertion and grievance!
        But as a Rep of all Eritrean Successes,aren’t you the ONE and the ONE best achiever,btw?
        Mr Isayas Nemariam has a dedicated blog on these achievers though partial.And we can google it under isayas nemariam Blog.
        In fact me and some of my friends attempted to gather some Eritrean Achievers that we know all over the world and we reached up to 125 Individuals with at least an MA/MSC Degree. and PhDs.
        For only statistical purposes,not for the sake of Regionalism,we gathered more than 38 successful Kerenites that we know only in Canada,the USA,Europe and Australia with MSC and PhDs
        I even know some families with at least – members with 2 MDs,MSC,DD and successful Business people from the same family.
        Just the tip of the iceberg,during the Derg and Janhoy era,Eritrea used to stand First in the ESLCE-the Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Exam and by default,they used to be assigned to major Colleges in major fields in Ethiopia.We appreciate that,btw,Cousin Abi et al!.
        If you want to dig in more,who do you think built the Ethiopian Infra-structure?-The Tele,the Airlines,the Transportation,the Construction,the Consumer Section,–the Hotels,Restaurants….
        Let Abi et al bark…to their satisfaction.
        The Eritrean Medical Association in N America used to have more than 45 MDs–with Major Specialties included…until 1999 when Prof Haile Mezghebe was actively involved.Irrespective of what and no matter what,consider Prof Berekhet Habte-Sillassie and his success..
        Can you interview Prof Dr Haile Debas of the Stanford Univ?
        Without going further and anywhere else,what about the great awatistas here that I tried to list last week?Don’t they represent the Eritrean Success stories?

        • Hope

          Read Eritrean as Eritreans–in the second line.

        • Abi

          Here is Abi barking
          I like to extend my heart felt appreciations for all the eritreans who built ethiopia.
          The sad thing is after you left everything is crumbling around us. Ethiopian Airlines shutdown, all the universities closed, no roads built, addis and other major cities turned to villages, no bridges, dams,……..
          It is a sad, sad situation. At the same time you are building eritrea. I’m jealous. Please come back. We can not survive without you . Please save us.
          How was your vacation in addis? Tell me something?
          Hope, minew erashin antu alkew? Tinish teregaga.

  • sarah ogbay

    Dr. Samah,
    you are a pride to you family but an inspiration and a role model to all Eritreans. Please keep coming up on Eritrean media and lit out hearts with hope!

  • Fanti Ghana

    Thank you Samah for being an inspiration to all of us, to your sisters of the world, to our region, and to your country.
    Thank you Memhir Selah Johar. We needed that.

    • Mahmud Saleh

      Salamat Fanti Ghana
      Good to see you, we really need some of your cool comments which are always varnished with wisdom. What’s all this disappearance about?

      • Fanti Ghana

        Selamat Brother Mahmud, and All Awatistas.

        This wasn’t how I planned to “come back,” but I couldn’t resist Dr. Samah’s story.

        In the last six months of my absence, during the first four I couldn’t even attend class ( let alone write, but as things started to get better recently, I started reading a little. In my attempt to first catch up with recent posts before I start to prepare to write an article I promised SGJ regarding our “Club Selam,” I am learning that Haile TG, Papillon, Ermias, and Rodab are missing, and Kim Hanna is actually male (my apologies KH. I will need some time to adjust to that blunder). As if that is not deep enough a dent to my psyche, I see that SAAY is multiplying like there is no tomorrow, and you are tending to his flock with no shame. So, here I am wiggling my virtual finger at you and SAAY while loving and missing you all Awatistas.

        Anyway, I am just incredibly busy brother Mahmud. I missed so much in the last six months.


    • Saleh Johar

      Oh Fanti Ghana! Welcome back. Disappearing for six months is a crime, according to the PFDJ law that I am following today. People get in big trouble for absconding for a week. 🙂

      Welcome back

      • Fanti Ghana

        Selamat Memhir,

        You won’t believe how busy I was from September until last month. I agree that it should be a crime to disappear like that but, not being able to visit was a harsh enough punishment by itself, so I can only beg that the sentence to be “time served” your honor.

        I missed you all very much.

        • Hope

          Welcome back Dr Fanti Ghana…
          You have been missed a lot…..your Pro-Peace comments have been missed

    • Nitricc

      Fanti where the hack have you been? I agree with SJ, you must be punished. when you were here we were talking about establishing a peace group; people to people and heart to heart to bering the two people together but since you left the wrong people are demanding Ethiopia to invade Eritrea. did you see how your present meant to Awate-U? you are one of a few people with beautiful heart and amazing soul. please don’t disappear.
      Nothing but Respect, Sir!

      • Fanti Ghana

        Hello Brother Nitricc,
        The gist of what happened in the last six months is in my reply to Mahmud and SJG below, but believe me I was the one who was punished for not being able to visit this wonderful site for so long.
        However, none of you were away from my mind.

        Thank you, and it is always nice to hear from you Brother.

  • Mizan

    Dear Saleh Johar,

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I have tears in my eyes as I write this, I sincerely mean it. Let alone for an Eritrean woman like Samah, you probably are aware that even for American women (with all the resources, equality, support, opportunities freedom they have), Science and Engineering degrees are not a walk in the park yet because of lots of societal discriminatory values starting from childhood. You know how we still give women dolls and boys complicated things to figure out. Furthermore, there is still some lingering beliefs that women can’t do science, math, and engineering. About a decade ago, there was a huge uproar in the US as a result of this:

    “The president of Harvard University has provoked a furore by arguing that men outperform women in maths and sciences because of biological difference, and discrimination is no longer a career barrier for female academics.”

    I don’t think I need to say more but to show how difficult it is and in appreciation of Samah’s achiement, let me add one more thing here. Many US universities have great support systems to encourage and support women to pursue science and engineering. In a nutshell, what Samah did is an incredible achievement by any standard, any standard.

    From a very happy and proud Awate commenter.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Thanks Saleh
    And congratulation to Dr. Samah and her family. A truly motivating story, and thanks awate for this noble cause.

  • Yonas

    Congradulations Proffesor. We are so happy to see you achieve your ultimate goal in life. Keep the good job and I hope one day you are going to invest your knowledge in Eritrea.

    • AMAN

      I already did ! man !
      Where have you been ?
      I already achieved what I want and living life with happiness of achievement
      at the highest point in the hierarchy !!!

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Abu Saleh,

    Good idea to encourage our youngs and recognize their achievements. Go ahead it is noble idea.

  • guest

    Mabrook Doctorah Samah.and my congratulations to her parents for raising such hard working children. My thanks extended to Ustathain Saleh Johar and Yusuf Abdurrahman, our Honorary Eritrean of Kuwait for reporting this eye cooling story. And as he said in his Al-Anbaa, BRAVO, SAMAH.