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Crossed Over and Met Seyoum 

[I wrote this article more than  12 years ago (April 25, 2006). I remembered it when I was talking with a friend two days ago and read it. I am republishing it because I think it is still relevant.]

I was always intrigued by the idea of talking to the dead. It is even more intriguing when you consider that many people make a living by acting as go-between to connect the living with the dead. It must be possible I thought: all the palm-readers, witch-doctors and TV personalities can’t be wrong! I needed to cross over and meet some people; but first, I had to learn how to do it.

A brief research led me to tons of books on the subject of crossing over to the after-life or, looking into my past lives. Some believe we live multiple lives (reincarnation), we die and are reborn in a new life; our memories of our past lives, however, are buried deep in our minds. We can’t recall those memories unless we go through a hypnosis session to discover our past lives. But for someone who was raised on a belief system of ‘you are born, you live, you die, and you meet your maker’, the whole reincarnation thing was an alien notion to me.

I read about someone who claimed he was a Roman Gladiator in his past life; now he is an ice-cream vendor. Another said he was once a pirate in the Middle Ages and he drowned in the Pacific Ocean, then he was a beggar and was killed in the Bastille during the French Revolution. Now he is an elementary school teacher in Tanzania.

Though the stories are fascinatingly entertaining, the Twilight-Zone subjects of crossing over, after-life, and time and space, are too complicated for a layman like me- it needs a brain trained in physics to begin to understand it.

That is why I went for the less intimidating and very tempting books: Crossing Over for Dummies, for example! I bought a few books and read them. Now I know how to visit my past lives–I discovered I was once a veterinarian who treated stray dogs and I died of stray dog bite.

I have also learned how to talk to the dead.

The Dummy-book teaches you how to hypnotize yourself and go on a deep trance. Now, I often hypnotize myself and go on a trance to avoid certain noises, and most of the clutter, created by the fear-mongers, hate fabricators, defamers, and fire-starters.

Before crossing over, one has to call the other world reception desk from a red telephone, any red telephone will do (lucky Londoners: red telephones are everywhere). Once the receptionists know your itinerary, they will give you all the information you need: weather forecasts including temperatures at Dante’s infernos; the flood level of the rivers of milk and honey, and the numbers of on-demand escort services.

Last weekend I decided to cross over. I passed through a walkway adorned with manicured shrubs on the sides and reached a lush green park with many huge trees under whose shade crowds of people were sitting and having fun. I spotted Seyoum Harestay sitting beside Hamid Awate and others sipping dark red tea. He was cracking jokes. At a distant meadow, beautiful horses were grazing.

Seyoum is fine; he has gained some weight though. He said, “It is all this sitting under a tree drinking lots of milk and honey”. I had shouted “Salamat Harestay” when I came closer. He looked over his Shaft-eye-glasses that I never knew he smuggled through to the other world. He was obviously surprised to see me and stood up to welcome me. I could see the faces around were not happy–I had interrupted the joke he was telling.

“Do you want a drink”, he asked. Yes, orange please. He snapped his fingers and there was a cup of a cold orange juice in my hands. “That was easy,” I exclaimed! He shook his head and said, “Talk about easy!” He told me that things were so easy that when he first arrived he wanted to organize the peasants in the other world, and that he was amazed at how little work the dead peasants have to do, “everything is easy here, you throw a seed, snap your fingers, and it grows”. He lamented and wished it were that easy for the Eritrean youth who are breaking their backs in the PFDJ’s slavery projects. He added, “everything is so organized, so perfect and so easy; I can’t even teach Tigrinya to the people here, they all speak pristine, uncorrupted classical Tigrinya. I am waiting for the PFDJ cadres to come so that I can teach them how to speak the language they so much corrupted.”

I was surprised when Seyoum told me about a few persons who couldn’t cope with the peaceful existence in the afterlife and escaped back to earth. They are the ones wreaking “Internet-Lekhe” havoc now. He asked me to walk with him to the post office; he held a letter he was mailing to the upcoming congress of the ELF-RC. I glanced at the letter and read a few lines: “you better make sure to take my bones back to Eritrea” was the last line. There was also a Nota Bene for Wolde: I am confident you are up to the challenge. Defend the umbrella! We dropped the letter in a shiny box. “This is a real letter to my colleagues and not one manufactured by the Internet-lekhe dirt,” he joked.  How true.

I reminded Seyoum that in his previous life, he has disappointed many who tried hard to lure him to lead their nascent sectarian grouping and that they hate him because he admonished them strongly. What was their motive in trying to make you the Queen Bee for their chauvinist constituency, I remarked! He laughed and said: teHatsibka ab Chiqa. Right. A clean person avoids dirt while a pig cannot help but roll on its own refuse. Some people exhale stinking flames and their pupils are dull like Yoghurt gone bad, or “zeAssewe reg’ou” in Seyoum’s words.

Seyoum then went on to tell me that he just finished a meeting presided by Awate; they wanted to know why “Mahber Andnet” was reborn! “Newcomers have to face the anger that is poured on them by the veterans”, he said. He was glad I was visiting because he needed me to update the crowd of veterans on the status of the pathetic reborn Andnet. I agreed.

He showed me a spot and I sat down. Everyone was waiting so I began: The Eritrean opposition is going through a reformation phase and some spoilers don’t like that. In fact, judging by what is being written and said, you would be hard pressed to deduce that those “journalists” are the re-incarnation of the writers of the Andnet Newspaper, I said. Someone asked a question:

Are You Journalists or advocates?

Are We Journalists? I know I am not. I do not know of any Eritrean journalist; none in the Eritrean websites- not even in the government owned website and its affiliates. I think of myself as a writer of conscience. But I was silent and didn’t respond.

A man who was silently sitting started to talk. I thought I knew him, but I couldn’t make out his name. Was it Siraj Abdu or Elias Teklu from The Voice of Eritrea of the 1950s? In an admonishing tone he said, “Many of you present-day writers mistake what you do for journalism.  In my day, we didn’t sit and agonize over whether we should give space to those who were subverting federalism. We knew it was wrong, and we took a stand!”

Finally I answered, ‘I think of myself as an advocate who tries to contributes to the struggle through the writing medium. I do not write because I am a journalist-–all my writings are about issues related to the struggle against tyranny and for the sake of freedom and justice.’

He smiled and asked me not to be sensitive and he continued, “you should know you have a goal: contribute towards uprooting tyranny and to help in establishing a just system in Eritrea. Some of the major problems you are having are due to the fact that some think they are in the opposition and at the same time that they are neutral reporters. True you have reporting activities; but will you report news that strengthens those who are oppressing your people? Had you been a reporter in a foreign medium and had you not been an Eritrean, you could be neutral to Eritrean issues. Therefore, expect neutrality only from people unrelated to the Eritrean cause that is being waged against oppression and tyranny. You can neither be neutral nor schizophrenic about this struggle; you should be a proud member of the advocacy forces that is fighting the tyranny in Eritrea.”

Seeing how disappointed they were, I was shaking and trembling with shame. I apologized for letting them down. Hamed Idris Awate smiled and started to speak softly: “we don’t need your apology; we just want those of you who call yourselves defenders of justice to stop being dumb and waste your energies unnecessarily. As for us, we are just fine, don’t you see all around you–food, drinks, beautiful weather and we sit here, and crack jokes all day! I am not even mad at those who call me names and try to defame my history. Do you think they can? No. But for your own good, know how to coexist peacefully and be proud of who you are. Eritrea is for all of you and you should learn to respect each other and have mutual concern.”

A familiar looking girl (could it be Alem?) who was silent all the time became furious and said, “the claims that many of you stupidly make, that what you write is unbiased and neutral is bogus and misleading. One can’t be neutral and unbiased. A fake title of a journalist or an unbiased reporter that precedes one’s name is just that: fake. Can’t you figure that out? Even us, who you think are dead, know that.”

I nodded in agreement.

I wished those who lecture us incessantly about neutrality would stop that crap. If one advances the propaganda of the oppressive regime under the bogus pretext of neutrality, one is neither an opposition to injustice nor unbiased-–that is called a fuel contribution that keeps the oppression alive. In fact, in the current struggle, one should feel insulted if he was considered neutral. How could one be against oppression and neutral to it? And then there is the confusion about…

Free Press

A slender man approached us smiling. It was the poet Ahmed Saad. He was reciting patriotic poems while two birds were perched on his shoulders and signing along with him- mn ajli men dzaq aadhzena; mn ajli… His recitation agitated the entire crowd; I sensed an anger about to explode. He finished and said, “You are talking about free press, huh” and sat down. I saw my friends Beshir and Gebreqedus joining the crowd. I jumped, and we hugged each other, they were wet–someone had told me they found a beautiful lake which they named Shfshifee and spend their time swimming there and usually returned before dusk. They interrupted their swimming when they heard I was visiting. Gebreqedus teased me: “aha, free press, if you know what you are missing here!”. Then Beshir pulled him away. They told me they will go hunting to treat me for a Maada lunch and that I should meet them at tree number 32 when I am done.

Ahmed Saad was obviously angry. He said, “Free press is the most abused phrase. It cannot exist in a vacuum–there should be laws and accountable institutions and code of ethics for a free press to exist. There should be a constitutionally elected national government that regulates free press and protects freedom of expression. Free press cannot exist alone where there is no democratic governance and no judiciary, legislative and executive organs. What should exist in such situations is advocacy–a fight against tyranny to establish a democratic governance and establish freedoms, including that of expression.” Everyone nodded in agreement.

I interjected: We all know, at least those of us who consider themselves an opposition, that the government media serves the goals of the oppressive regime and its main purpose is not to inform but to misinform and tighten its grip on power. Seyoum interrupted me and in an angry voice said, “Should the regime’s propaganda message be given an extra mileage by facilitating its wider reach? Can a so-called opposition be a voluntary hauler of messages that serve the oppressors? Isn’t the opposition supposed to fight the destructive views of the oppression?” Someone jokingly interrupted Seyoum: “cool down Seyoum, you might get another heart-attack- it is good we don’t have it here”. And there was a wild laughter.

As if that is not enough, we are facing hindrances and sabotages in the form of defamation, fear-mongering and other messages from corners who we tend to believe are supposed to be allies of the opposition if not its members. How do we protect ourselves from such an onslaught? Are our jovial “journalists” exercising an honest freedom of expression and free press? I thought this leads to a state of deplorable self-inflicted amnesia. Such convictions cry for revision.

Goitom Gebrezgi smilingly said, “you know there is no one who suffered from anarchy as I did in my previous life. You are facing anarchy. The right to free press goes hand in hand with the bearing of responsibility. Anyone who is not willing to be accountable for his deeds should not pretend to be an exponent of free press.”

“Accountability!”, said Elias Teklu sarcastically. He continued, “Hiding behind a pen name and defaming others is not freedom of expression but cowardice. Such pseudo freedoms only give ghost writers the freedom to slander irresponsibly without the fear of accountability.” I tried to explain: but there are mediums that are governed by morality and inbuilt ethics and there are loose cannons! Siraj Abdu calmly said, “one is tempted to ask: what is the professional code of conduct and who oversees their implementation? Is there any professional guild? What is the mechanism of accountability for unfair transgressions? Free press cannot exist in a vacuum.” I had to agree, again.

Seyoum reminded me how in the seventies many marriages were destroyed because of a distorted application of “democracy.” Just like the distorted understanding of democracy caused social upheaval in the era of the struggle, “Free Press, in its distorted application by some, is causing an Internet-lekhe upheaval,” he said.

I believe those who want to be “unbiased journalists or reporters” should make a choice: either be absolutely biased in supporting the side of the struggle against tyranny or relinquish the right to be considered allies and members of the opposition …. And suddenly, everything went out of focus and hazy and I crossed back to this life–it was the damn phone ringing sharply. I opened my eyes and picked the phone.


“It seems I woke you up?”.

Yes you did. It was a friend who thought of himself as a journalist until he discovered he was an advocate. I told him that I just met some people from the past.

“Your friends?”

Yes. No. Well--he would think I am out of my mind if I told him I met Seyoum and the rest–let’s say I was meeting a bunch of people who are disappointed.

“Disappointed! What is new, everybody is!”

We talked for a few minutes. Then I dropped the phone, took a shower prepared a dark red tea. I missed the Mada lunch.

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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  • AMAN

    In other words it is to say that, how much are
    the opposing sides true to their words and
    convictions vis a vis pres. Trump? It is a thing
    that remains yet to be seen. !

  • AMAN

    The problem i see in the political discourses and
    social media pundits is regarding Pres. Trump of
    the USA is that he is prejudged beforehand way
    before even starting his work. All the complain
    is based on speculations about him and his com
    ing presidency and this speculations are many
    of them off the mark and unrelated. So he is
    heavily chained from the start or the beggning
    hindering his moves .
    Thus there is no reason for me to blame for
    anything. And even if there would be one thing
    to blame, he didn’t get the chance to start his
    work like other presidents do. Hopefully, there
    is nothing wrong.

  • AMAN

    or is eventually leading to its demise or splitt
    into two opposing belifs similar to the 7th c
    shia versus Sunni or the 15th c catholic /
    christian cases. Thus all the terrorists and
    their terrorist ideologues and ideologies started
    backing up and retreat because they were exposed. And decided to keep a lower profile
    and probably a new course and mode of operation materially and psychologically.
    And started to take it and hammer P. Trump
    of the USA assuming he is a religious warrior
    and portraying him as such for their cause and
    acts of preempting him….

  • AMAN

    …culures and beliefs or weaken it if not possible
    this trigered a fast and strong response and the
    emergence of new ideology by the name Agaaz-
    ianizm and thus a hasty and rapid U — TURN and
    2. Globally, when Islamic ideology after 8 years
    of freewheeling and engagement of the western
    democracies and after realizing that it was badly
    collided and cracking especially in the US and by
    the strength of the US democratic tradition ;
    made a quick retreat or change of course ,
    understanding that the wahabism is at odds
    and badly exposing it and its future and will…

  • AMAN

    Yes no lies here I was observing the social and
    political developments taking place in the region
    and the events before and after about 2016 and
    subsequent local and Global changes and re –
    1. Locally in ER and the HoA sub region and
    2. Globlly in the mainly US lead world both
    interwined for bad or good.
    1. Locally, there was an ISIS like chauvenist
    development to create a pakistan like Islamic
    Eritrea with neighboring Ethiopia as India on
    the south. Passionately driven to dominate
    the traditions and values of the Tigrigna nation
    and their connections to their ancient original

  • AMAN

    were twice checked with checkmate that your dream of creating Eritrean pakistan and you
    fight for global Islam was knocked down and
    started to shatter by western democracies and
    especially by the strength of the US democracy
    and when this fact was starting to come out acc
    oss social discussion forums and circles and the
    hidden agend exposed and echoed by some
    astutute journalists and newspapers accross the
    Globe. That was the time you made a hasty retreat and u-turn either for a while or entirely
    abandon it.

  • AMAN

    First of all you should know that you can’t simply
    throw your dirts on some innocent ones and hide
    for such a magnitude of cover ups and crimes in
    the name Islamic ideology or national agenda and consider and calling me stupid and ignorant
    just only because I Didn’t collaborate in your scheme or corruption or intention of corrupting
    people and their freedoms and rights.
    Second, you were all pioneers to finish the job
    with enthusiasm which now you seem to ignore
    to back seat or abandon at all untill you make
    that famous trade mark of yours – the U – TURN.
    And the reasons that you hastily made escape
    or as u like to call it u-turn is because you were

  • AMAN

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Somalis
    on preaching Islam. Why was
    she condemned for decades
    by somalis only to come full
    circle to her points after causing
    so much damages to societies and
    civilizations intentionaly and deliberately
    in their mission.
    Consider also the case of salman Rushdi. ..
    in the 80s.

  • AMAN

    The reason i like muslims
    is that they are gays.
    You know…

  • Hope

    Hello all:https://gdb.voanews.com/8F2E5EC7-A556-4CB0-A9A9-700945191418_cx0_cy9_cw0_w408_r1_s.jpg
    It is Friday evening.
    May be assenna got it right this time???

    • Amanuel

      Hi Hope
      This is Awate forum. No need to speak about Assenna, TN or Meskerem.

  • AMAN

    Wha’s up Men,
    I love my Eritrea AND
    Eritrea loves me too!
    Any problem with that?

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam SGJ,

    Should it be April 25, 2006, since you are saying was written 12 years ago?

    • Thanks Emma,
      Indeed it’s 2006. Apologies for the error.

    • Saleh Johar

      Thanks Emma,
      Indeed it’s 2006. Apologies for the error.