Home / Awate Team / The Horn of Africa: From Unitarianism to Medemerism

The Horn of Africa: From Unitarianism to Medemerism

Sifting through endless mazes of social media outlets to find a discourse that engages one’s intellectual faculty requires ample patience and restraints of the highest order. The attendant subject matter, namely, The Horn of Africa, is no exception in that it has proliferated in magnitude, in volume, proportional to the virtual world at large. When that rare intellectual gem is discovered, however, all the trouble that one goes through on a daily basis to find something worth spending one’s precious time for is quickly ­forgotten. Such rare moment of interview with Ghirmai Negash has compelled the Awate Team to bring the intellectually engaging conversation that gives historical, factual, and genuine assessment of the situation taking place in the Horn of Africa today.

Ohio University professor Ghirmai Negash was a guest in the Eritrean People’s Sovereignty (EPS Media) recently on 27 December 2020. The ongoing, complex and dramatic events are very difficult to untangle. But, as many viewers in Facebook have written, they are skillfully (and unapologetically!) analyzed; and their causes and consequences illuminated by the professor in this dialogue. Instead of seeing the contentious issues through a micro-lens, which would be solely between Tigray (a state actor) versus Ethiopia (the central government actor), Professor Ghirmai uses a macro-lens, the Horn of Africa, as a tool of sociopolitical analysis. This approach allows for a broader sociopolitical vantage point from which to view and understand the current crises in the region. Based on the available scholarship, on concepts of (1) colonial and postcolonial ‘center-periphery’ dynamics,  and the (2) the historical and geographical proximity of the main actors involved, the interviewee sheds light using as a foreground cultural, linguistic, and religious factors and dispositions to elucidate his points.

Center-Periphery Dynamics Patterns and Empire-Building

As a general principle,  Professor Ghirmai stipulates that “the peoples of the Horn” have been coexisting, intermarrying within and across religions and ethnicities, and continue to be its historical and cultural hallmarks to the present day. Cultural and historical intersections, thus mutual appropriations in one form or another, have been and continue to be one of the region’s distinctively defining features.  At the same time, at macro sociopolitical level, the most powerful group(s) also established their “power centers” by raiding the less powerful groups in this historical process. Or seen from ethnic standpoint, it can be said that the marginalized ethnic groups within the Horn of Africa were made victims of the more powerful ones. As ‘subalterns’, these groups lacked mechanisms for recourse, and were often crushed as the lesser ‘others’ by the ‘center’ at times they attempted to fight for their rights, and for cultural or political autonomy.  Theoretically, the notion of the ‘subaltern’ was developed by the Italian thinker, Antonio Gramsci. As he defined it: “In postcolonial studies and in critical theory, the term subaltern designates and identifies the colonial populations who are socially, politically, and geographically excluded from the hierarchy of power of an imperial colony and from the metropolitan homeland of an empire.” Gramsci’s concept of the term subaltern is broadly used “to identify the cultural hegemony that excludes and displaces specific people and social groups from the socio-economic institutions of society, in order to deny their agency and voices in colonial politics.” Now, professor Ghirmai does not explicitly refer to Gramsci during this interview but it is clear, at least At, that  his line of exploration is, or may be, driven by this Gramscian, critical awareness or something akin to it.  And, as I will discuss below,  the above historical drop and assumed conceptual assertion offer indeed the appropriate framework to explaining and understanding equally the content of the interview and its subject-matter–the political and military conflict between the ‘Central Government of Ethiopia’ and its ‘Northern Tigray region’.

On “Unitarianism and Medermerism”

Professor Ghirmai’s talk/interview was titled “From Unitarianism to Medemerism: Perspectives on the Past and Present”. What we see in Ethiopia today, according to him, can be clearly understood if we look back with a historical lens at the century of Emperor Menelik’s reign. Vanderheym went along with the central government during Emperor Menelik’s raid of Wolaita and Oromo documented what he saw, and what we see from his account are disturbing descriptors that were used by the Emperor and his echelons. Terms such as, savages, uncivilized, pagan groups who need civilizing were the stereotypes used to characterize the victimized groups, of whom countless lives were also lost. This was no different from the way the European colonial powers used to describe the colonized in the Continent of Africa. The federal government’s internal war that we observe today can be characterized as Ethiopia’s century old empire-building strategy that started with Emperor Menelik; in fact it should be viewed as nothing less than a continuation of the ideology and practices pursued by the said empire. There is plenty of historical evidence for this. Although “there is a hierarchy within the center as within the periphery”, as the professor states, the political map and ensuing conflicts of the Horn of Africa continue to be driven by the dynamics of the ‘center-periphery’ ideological idea and its practical implications, victimizing the ‘subalterns’ in the interest of powerful elite groups.

Professor Ghirmai Negash’s contention can be enhanced from this rare, yet an important addition that would ostensibly shed light to the mindset of Ethiopia’s elites. In this brief video clip, an Ethiopian student abroad argues the superiority of Ethiopians over other Africans to even unilaterally claiming he or other people like him were not blacks fits the bill  here.**

On Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Medemerism

In his presentation, Professor Ghirmai threads cautiously and carefully the ‘Medemerism’ needle to its antecedent of ‘Unionism or Unitarianism’ followed by Emperor Haile Selassie when he annexed Eritrea (and of course which goes all the way back to Emperor Menelik’s era). Belaboring here won’t do the presentation justice. Suffice it to mention that those who understand Tigrinya language are in for an original, historical-political insight on our region that will enhance our understanding on some seemingly baffling events, both predictable and unpredictable. Professor Ghirmai’s analysis of Abiy Ahmed’s book Medemer  brilliantly makes the connection between the ideology of what he coined as “Medemerism,” and which he sees and explains as a contemporary iteration of the old ideology of “unionism.” The notion of ‘Unionism’ alludes to the historical political stand of the “Eritrean Unionist Party”, active during the 1950s and 60s. The party worked in tandem with Emperor Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia to dismantle the Ethio-Eritrea federation (1952-62), an act of aggression that led to a thirty-year war of liberation in Eritrea (1961-1991). In turn, the interconnections of these historically distinct but deeply interconnected ideologies—that is ‘unionism and medemerism’—are extended to provide explanations not only for what is happening between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the current conflict, but also to account for much of what is happening today with regard to Abiy Ahmed’s military raids against “minority” communities and historically “marginalized populations” in Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, and Tigray.

On External Interventions in the Horn

There also is the recurrent factor of ‘outsider’ intervention in the Horn of Africa. For example, Emperor Haile Selassie was aided by the British airpower in which Mekelle was bombed, previously. This took place during the first “Weyane Uprising” that started in 1943. Degiat Yebio Weldai pushed Emperor Haile Selassie out of the Tigray region, for which Tigray ended up getting bombed relentlessly by British war planes. Similarly, during the Eritrean struggle for self-determination, the Eritrean fighters and people were bombarded by the Ethiopian air and ground forces, aided by foreign powers, especially the United States, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and former Eastern bloc European countries. These were foreign entities trying to define and redefine the region according to their geo—political interests. to their respective sphere of influence. In light of this, the military intervention of foreign powers in the current Ethiopian conflict should come as no surprise, and we will very likely see more of it in the future, the professor states.

What the Awate Team found uniquely interesting in the interview is also the scholar’s ideas for moving forward. Insisting on the need to “always historicize,” as the great American literary theorist, Frederick Jameson, always insisted, the literary theorist Ghirmai Negash also invites us to be historically conscious and critically minded, whilst warning against the dangers of “unitarian” ideologies and their rhetoric that, particularly in the historical context of the Horn of Africa, are too often constructed to conceal true intentions of aggression and territorial expansion.

Concluding Remarks

This piece is not a substitute to the vid clip being provided; rather it is a short critical summary squeezed out from Professor Ghirmai Negash’s talk.  We took the liberty to provide a critical appraisal of the interview because we felt the need to make this important interview accessible to English-language speaking readers. His words have been paraphrased where it was deemed appropriate; and we have expounded upon his ideas where it was rendered important to do so in order to furnish a comprehensive picture of the analysis. Give it a listen, consequently, your perspective will be enriched. The Awate Team’s purpose here is to highlight for readers so you put the information to a good use by discussing issues in a mature fashion.

As far as we are concerned, as Professor Ghirmai clearly explained, the key issues worth considering vis-à-vis Ethiopia and Eritrea are as follows: If the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea is confined to trade, economy, durable diplomatic relations, tradition and cultural exchanges, which was done before and it will be done in the near future, it won’t cause any conceivable rift. The rift can reach to an exacerbating point, however, when the center wants to control what it considers the periphery. Today, Tigray is the Central government’s periphery; tomorrow it may be Eritrea. The latter possibility is against which Eritreans should do their utmost to prevent from happening. Cooperation in itself is well and good, but it should never come at the expense of the sovereignty of the Eritrean people.

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The PENCIL is awate.com's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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Happy Eid – ዒድ ሙባረክ – عيد مبارك

  • said

    Greetings .
    Joe Biden’s Optimistic Outlook

    I feel the more reason for Optimism Looking Forward having listened to a 25 minutes speech by Joe Biden spelling out a short-term 100 Plan of Action of his Administration upon assuming office. Biden’s speech and a number of other encouraging positive signs left me optimist of A Much Better World would be Opening Up.

    As I listened the night before to a 25 minutes excellent live speech by the Next American President Joe Biden on TV, Biden’s straightforward talk filled me with great optimism for the State of the World in the few coming years Ahead. The New US President who would officially assume the Presidency of the most powerful nation in the world next Wednesday, spelled out his immediate plan for the next 100 days of assuming the reins of power to help eradicate the Coronavirus Pandemic, revive and boost the American Economy with a very specific detailed plan of action that was all in the clear.

    The 25 minutes speech by Joe Biden is worth labeling as a State of the Union Plan of Action that would lift America economically and in consequence, in closer coordination, in a more open cooperative mode, stimulate the World Economy at large.
    True to his Electoral Platform that Integrated many elements of the Left Democrats’ agendas veering to more socialist equitable and humanitarian leaning, Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Economic Stimulus Package that he hopes to rush through a Democrats Majority Congress in the next 100 days, will sure, inter alia, entice confidence and start the engine for a robust sustainable world economic growth,

    On the Eradication of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Biden is committed, and through a more effective management and vaccine availability, to cause the vaccination of 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of the start of his New Administration. This, expectedly and quite naturally, the simultaneous vaccination campaigns will be going hand-in-hand in the rest of the world.

    As with regards to the economic stimulus package aiming mostly at stimulating consumer spending by significantly raising the income of the American households, President Joe Biden will raise minimum wages to $15.0 an hour and will significantly increase social spending to support American families across the board, foremost the trailing colored and marginalized of the less privileged American constituencies.

    Having put together the best and finest most inclusive American Administration staffed with professionals of the highest calibers of the most capable and best trained officials most inclusive of fair representations of all the American minority constituencies – possibly fist ever in American history – the New Biden Administration would certainly be narrowing the wide divide among the American population constituencies, providing for a more cohesive society, thus, Opening a New Window on the World.
    The Biden Administration’s ambitious future plans are equally echoing with the recent revelations by the Noble Laureate Princeton University economics Professor Paul Krugman who ten days ago, in n column in The New York Times, estimated that the US will witness, in the coming few years post the Coronavirus Pandemic, important historic sustainable economic growth and with it the entire world. Professor Krugman, a socialist thinker, reckons with the huge pent-up demand and the huge accumulation of household savings in excess of $1.0 trillion that was caused by the low spending during the extended period of the ravaging Pandemic, the American Economy will witness in the coming few years a huge economic growth surge stimulated by consumer spending.

    Simultaneously, with Joe Biden’s ambitious plan to create 18 million new jobs in the rebuilding of the American dilapidated infrastructure; investments in new fields in promising high-value sectors, foremost, in the renewable energy sector and in new breakthrough fields of technology, good paying jobs would boost family incomes, right across the entire racial and ethnic divides, as swell as significantly improve, for years to come, the standard of living of the American Families right across the board.

    In short, I am some how optimistic, with the Providence’s Bless, that a new era will soon be ushered in for a relatively more peaceful, more cooperative and more economically prosperous world

    • Peace!

      Hi Said,

      This is the last weekend Donald Trump is president:)

      Well it is good that some how you are optimistic although Biden said to his rich donors that nothing would fundamentally change. That means his administration would be pretty much Obama’s third term. Trump may have pursued wrong policies that polarized the people, but he also deserve credit for not taking the country into another war.


      • said

        Hi Peace
        US has major Financial Crisis and Inequality, racial wealth divide? And print worthless fiat currencies.

        I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that there is two universe. Inequality is about the disparity between people with respect to income and wealth. The top 1% of Americans possess more wealth than the whole of the middle class, Trump tax cuts for the rich and GOP neoliberal pretend to be for the working class. Trump opposing every policy that might have benefitted workers, extreme capitalism that stands in the way of a decent existence for the vast majority of people of US. Neo-liberalism capitalist class consolidates its power over more of the financial . economy and governing institutions. And Dems abandoning completely the working class. Clinton era started in destruction of welfare, and to some extend the Clinton/Obama sabotage of single payer healthcare during Democratic Obama administration made little to no progress in bridging this divide.,

        As reported the racial wealth divide in the latter half of the Obama presidency was the largest it’s been in the last 30 years. Income inequality remained virtually unchanged, too. In 2007, Black Americans earned about 60 percent as much as whites. By 2016, that had fallen to 58 percent. Black homeownership rate down from 49 to just 44 percent, nearly 30 percentage points lower than the rate for white Americans. Whether under Bush Clinton ,Obama or Trump, Big zero progress in bridging the economic divide for Black Americans in wealth, homeownership, and real income. every administration has failed to do over the last 40 years and they failed to bridge the gap.. Trump is leaving the White House with the lowest job approval of his presidency (29%) and increasingly negative ratings for his post-election conduct. The Trump administration created no federal program for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine and an average of almost 250,000 new cases a day of coronavirus, with daily deaths on either side of 4000. We are approaching 400,000 recorded deaths from Covid-19. Trump to call the pandemic a “hoax,” and he made wearing masks a political dividing line. Those Americans who would not have been lost to the Corona virus had Trump not offered so much lies. Trump has told, tens of thousands of verifiable lies .The GOP and Trump deserve one another. The GOP party has lost credibility.

        To repeat as mentioned above. Biden’s vision is centered on guaranteeing a fair economy for all, focusing on an idea of community that the needs of women and children and Climate change will be looked after.
        Joe Biden’s plan in his TV speech ,he calls for $50 billion to ramp up Covid-19 testing, including rapid tests, and to help schools and local governments establish regular testing systems. It calls for an investment of $30 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund to make sure it can provide supplies for the pandemic. $30 billion to help people meet payments for rent or utilities, and a $15 minimum wage. Biden is calling for aid for child care, a $3 billion investment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and $350 billion for state, local, and tribal governments to support front line workers and $1400 stimulus checks for individuals, expanded unemployment benefits through September, an end to eviction and foreclosure, Joe wants to be a president for all Americans, not just those who voted for him, a sharp contrast with Trump, Trump offered more of the same privilege for few. Americans rejected him and chose Biden. Biden’s speech calling for higher taxes on the wealthy to fund such investment

        GOP and Dem Administrations. It is a fight between two factions of the political class of the same orientation , poor Americans do not have a skin in their power games. As saying goes. you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Sooner or later, sufficient numbers will wise up and wakeup

        The U.S. deficit increased by $3.3 trillion during 2020. The size of the public debt issued by the Treasury Department reached $27.7 trillion. Total federal revenue was $3.5 trillion, while the corporate tax part of that was just $220 billion, or a paltry 6.5%. What that means is that in an ever more unequal America, 93.5% of the money flowing into the government’s till comes from individuals, not corporations.
        US market soared, more than 25. million Americans were the recipients of federal unemployment benefits. The S&P 500 stock market index added a total of $14 trillion in market value in 2020. In essentially another universe, the number of people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and didn’t regain them was about 10 million.

        According to recent Federal Reserve reports, the U.S. wealth gap continued to widen dramatically as economic inequality increased yet again in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because the health and economic devastation it inflicted affected low-wage service workers, low-income earners, and people of color so much more than the upper-middle class and elite upper class.
        in Jan 2017 Trump inherited a debt of $20trillion from Obama . Trump presidency four year after $28trillion forecast for Jan 2021. Joe Biden will inherit
        US deficit is currently $3.3trillion which is virtually equal to total tax revenue of $3.4trillion .About 50% of annual government spending needs to be borrowed. .Joe Biden will print more than $ 8trillion? 35T ,an increase from today. Keep printing fait money .A worthless paper money created with just pushing a button, created digitally out of nothing. All this $trillions or $60s of trillions debt will need to be bought by Federal Reserve. You have derivatives amount to $2 Quadrillion? Add to this medical care, social security and unfunded pensions will probably exceed $100T or quadrillion who knows . 1971 Nixon dropping the gold standard, the Bretton Woods Agreement on currencies/

        • Peace!

          Hi Said

          Biden served as a lawmaker from 1973 through 2009 and as vice president for good eight years, so he is not new to the system responsible for the social grievances you mentioned. In fact he is responsible for laws that effected severely the life of millions of African Americans till this day and shockingly, he has no regrets what so ever. And now he said to his rich donors nothing would fundamentally change and ostensibly, he has no apatite to address key social issues and even accommodate progressives and progressive agendas. In other words, his administration would be third term of the Obama presidency.

          Raising minimum wage is the right move but without fundamental change, for example reforming justice system, it would not be effective, other than survival, to overcoming financial barriers, learning curve, and to creating impetus to reverse the rising inequality.

          Corporations and potential investors and donors are too powerful for any president to ignore. In fact, how well or bad the stock market performs sets the daily mood of the president. In contrast, how many people evicted, became homeless, or left out without health insurance have never gotten attention as much as the stock market does. A bittersweet tale of capitalism at work.

          Good Weekend.


          • said

            Hi Peace
            for the purpose of this debate, as I indicated in my respond, I focused and summarized on future economic and monetary policies and will be more on stimulating consumption than on supply side economics As reported Last spring the Fed had already reduced the funds rate to the zero bound and announced unlimited quantitative easing, initially set at $120bn every month . Just keep printing money has become a permanent fixture for the Fed. A John Law policy of printing money to rig market prices. QE it has become a means of financing government deficits with the Fed funds rate at the zero. And in 2021 the rate of QE will increase significantly and markets see the value of the dollar being lower in the future. The fact real money that gold rose 26% year 2020 and the only sound money. As I mentioned above the explosive rise in the national debt by almost $7.8 trillion that occurred on his time of 4 years and trump spent $3 trillion into COVID-19-related stimulus.. Trump said in a March 31, 2016 to Washington Post, he could pay down the national debt, then about $19 trillion, the after the 2017 tax cut $21 trillion in debt that has been accumulated, much by the Obama Administration and early 2019, the national debt had climbed to $22 trillion. and by end of 2019, the debt had risen to $23.2 trillion The data according to Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country. Joe Biden has not yet realise how unlucky he is to have won.
            He will face a monetary to fiscal to social and political crisis.

            I am well aware of the record of Obama presidency and V.P Biden, as I highlighted above. US democracy run by major Establishment and Big Media .their donation make a lot of difference during election who get elected .Twitter and Facebook, Establishment controlled social media and the same Apple, Amazon, and Google—all faithful servants of the Establishment and serving a ruling elite’s self-serving agendas. Also throughout the Western World, nothing new . Trump give Billions in corporate tax savings, and a more lenient regulatory landscape favor the supper rich. with cash from tax cuts and deregulation. Trump era came with the 2017 Tax Cuts .The bill cut corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent, The Joint Committee on Taxation predicted the bill would save companies $1.35 trillion over the next decade
            corporate started to abandon GOP and Trump . Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, a Wall Street reform nonprofit. “Now that Trump is merely days from leaving office, they have claimed to have suddenly found their values. It is, in many ways, hypocrisy.”

  • መሃንድስ-ምዕባለ


    ግን ከኣ ኣብ ደረጃ
    ዓጸቦ ኣይበጸሐን

    ክዳውንተይ ረሲሑ
    ብሰንኪ ዘይጽሬት
    ሕብሩ ተቐይሩ

    ብሰንኪ ሓመድ ብሰሪ ማይ
    ሕብሩ ተደዊኑ
    ኮምፓስ ስለዘይነበረኒ
    ተናዊጹ መኣዝኑ

    ትጸገም ግን መን ‘ዩ?
    ሓንጎለይ ረሲሑ

    ኣበይ ከሕጽቦ
    ንታይ ከ ክምግቦ?

    ወረ! ኴኑ ስመዓኒ
    ኣብ ምዕቡል ዓለም ተቐሚጠ
    ላንጋላንጋ ኴነ ‘ባ ተሪፈ

    ሓንጎለይ ጠስጢሱ
    ንመን ከልግበሉ
    ጸገመይ ግን ብሓቂ መን’ዩ?

    ኣብ ጽምዋ ኮፍ ኢለ ምስ ሓሰብኩ
    ኣነ! ‘የ ጸገም ናተይ
    ሓንጎለይ ኮፍ ኣቢለ
    ብሓንጎል ሰባባት
    ክሓስብ ጀሚረ
    ለሚሰ ተደዊነ ተደናጊረ
    እህህህም ቀደም ዝፈልጠንስ
    መዓስ ከምዚ ኔረ
    ዓለም ጠላም!

  • Bayan Negash

    Greetings Awate Team,

    What a delight to see the piece in College of Arts & Sciences Forum. Here is the link:


  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear all .

    I think, we human beings are now advancing to the other world of higher consciousness which lead us to other dimensions where nation is allowed to appear slowly. Man will manage to see how to administrate himself without dividing nations.


  • EritreanHillBilly

    Hello all,
    Is it ok if I were to say this article shouldn’t be published. It is just a lot of word play with no real substance.
    “Although “there is a hierarchy within the center as within the periphery”, as the professor states, the political map and ensuing conflicts of the Horn of Africa continue to be driven by the dynamics of the ‘center-periphery’ ideological idea and its practical implications, victimizing the ‘subalterns’ in the interest of powerful elite groups.”
    What are you trying to say?
    The article is just loaded with unnecessary and jargon ridden word play… a form of Eritrean Papagalloism.

    • gasha asha

      Hello EritreanHillbilly,
      Hoping you are Tigrinya speaking HillyBilly. If so, please give the talk a listen, then, matters will fall in place.


      • EritreanHillBilly

        Gasha Basha
        I don’t know what you are saying according to Prof. Eritrea is going to periphery next…
        “Tigray is the Central government’s periphery; tomorrow it may be Eritrea.”
        Unless, Eritrean are so tired of their independence that they want to unite with Ethiopia to get 40 year old PhD as their president.
        Ethiopia is going to be dynamic and forward thinking country. The days of dinosaurs are done. Just look at Sebhat Nega and is crew… either died and getting captured wearing pajamas with gray hair…

        The article is just fear-mongering with some Gramsci mumbo jumbo thrown into the pot to give it an impression of deep scholarly analysis…
        This is known form of Eritrean Papagalloism.

        The simple analysis is that Ethiopia is transitioning to technocrat age from autocratic age of dinosaurs….
        I am sure Menguistu Hailemariam is laughing with death of Abay Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin… and others…
        A Cameroon friend of mine who was following what is happening in the Ethiopia told.. it is good those dinosaurs are getting arrested or dying… unfortunately his country is ruled by 87 year old dinosaur who plans to run again in two years…
        All this analysis about center or periphery is missing the Technocrat age vs autocratic age division that is happening..

        • Aman Y.

          Selam HillBilly,

          You wrote “Unless, Eritrean are so tired of their independence that they want to unite with Ethiopia to get 40 year old PhD as their president.”
          What about if the center subjugates the periphery(Eritrea) by soliciting help from Yemen, Sudan, Emirates…in a law enforcing operation?

          • EritreanHillBilly

            You are just fear-mongering. Eritrea is country and not a Ethiopian region.
            You remind of people like Seyoum Mesfin and Sebhat Nega dinosauriwye dreaming about war and battlefield.
            I think Yemenis and Sudanese are too busy trying to feed their malnourished people to worry about Eritrea and Ethiopia conflict..
            The Ethiopia dinosaurs are either died or in jail… hopeful the same thing happens to Eritrean leadership and the opposition figures so we can new generation…
            Don’t be a dinosauriwye.

          • Abay

            Dear EritreanHillBilly
            Eritrea needs a new generation of political thinkers. It is also important to take lessons from the failed/near failed countries (Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen). Peace and stability is priceless.

          • EritreanHillBilly

            What TPLF has shown us is the dinosaurs in eritrea will not handover power to next generation this also includes the eritrean opposition- same coin different side.
            Fortunately death will take care of them within next 10-20 years so we can finally erase both them from history books… as a bad headache… or bad chapter.

  • saay7

    Selamat Awatistas:

    While I acknowledge that the challenges of governance in Ethiopia are the pull-push between the center and the periphery, I would venture to say that this is not uniquely Ethiopian feature: even in the United States, some of the most contentious disputes are over the same issue: how much power should the center (Washington DC) have vs what the States should have.

    Instead, I would like to focus on something else that is routinely claimed and put on my devil’s advocate hat. This is because, I notice, there is an inverse relationship between the self-praise we Horn of Africans engage in routinely, and the reality observed. For example:

    “Professor Ghirmai stipulates that “the peoples of the Horn” have been coexisting, intermarrying within and across religions and ethnicities, and continue to be its historical and cultural hallmarks to the present day.”

    The first question is: is this anecdotal information combined with a little wishful thinking, or is it actually documented scientifically?

    The second question is: even if this is true, what does it mean for patriarchal societies who always (?) self-identify with the ancestry, ethnicity, religion of one parent (almost always the father) and not both parents.

    Anecdotally, I know people who are of mixed ancestry, but, instead of seeing their mixed heritage as a blessing, they over-compensate for it by over-identifying with one and, sometimes, to the extreme.


    • Brhan

      Hello SAAY,
      I participated in census during the Derg times in Asmara and I believe the census was reflecting intermarriage indirectly , as there was a question about the birth places of spouses or partners.
      And if I am not mistaken , in Ethiopia , your ethnicity is described in your id card, thus it is easy to see if there is intermarriage in house holds or not.
      In both cases I can say yes, it is indirectly documented scientifically.
      I hope I answered to your question

      • saay7

        Selamat Brhan:

        I am specially addressing this claim:

        “Peoples of the Horn” have been coexisting, intermarrying within and across religions and ethnicities, and continue to be its historical and cultural hallmarks to the present day.

        My question is: is there intermarriage across religions in Eritrea that is statistically significant?


        • Brhan

          Selamat Saay,
          I understand your question. I will try to answer it in three ways and I hope they address the question of statistical significance
          1) The example of the Belin ethinic group in Eritrea. As you know, the Belin have intermarriage accross religions where you can find follower of the two religions in one family.
          2) Urban settings cities or towns have more intermarrying accross religions than the urual settings. There the followers of religions learn, work and live together and this environment is friendly to intermarrying accross religions.
          3) I believe iSem mentioned in his comment, the Ghedli expreince. It empahsized being an Eritrean first and the last, and this in its turn resuted in intermarrying accross the religions.
          But Saay for the weekend I choose for your this legenary song from our legenary singer Osman Abdulrahim ፍቕሪ ዕውር ኣሚነ!

          • saay7

            Hey Brhan:

            I am not making a value judgement on whether it’s good or bad: I am not questioning the claim that there is statistically significant inter-faith marriage in Eritrea. If there is, show it to me. If there isn’t, let’s stop pretending there is.

            My observation is that contrary to ፍቕሪ being ዕዉር it peeks long enough to check what is the persons religion before checks the box. At least when it comes to marriage.

            Let’s make 2021 the year we choose truth over slogans.


    • Berhe Y

      Hi Saay,

      I think those of us who think to find sone sort of social / scientific answer to our problems, are over and exaggerating the real problem.

      I don’t believe we are even anywhere close to have about 10% of a capacity of a functioning government institutions that we can think of. In Eritrea this number is probably less than 1%, al least those involved in complicated political aspects.

      For example, Eritrea during the federation has probably achieved the highest form of functional and competent government institutions.

      The last 20 years during era of Isayas, and last 20 years during the derg is total write off.

      For example, who is this 30 something years old, Eritrea government representative in Ethiopia today, retreating the country at the AU?

      Same can be said about our representative at the UN.

      So I think before we speak about the sophisticated aspect like central or periphery, I believe is just academic exercise that doesn’t exist on the ground.

      What would be nice to see is a government with basic government institutions that deals with basic aspects. Such as taxation, budgeting, labour, education, investment plans, policies, economic growth, forecasting etc.

      Then the more complicated part like wealth sharing, distribution of power and all.

      As to the “intermarriage” etc, I don’t think we are worst of compared to others. In our case, I don’t think we shed blood defending or fighting this race, or that region or this religion or that ethnic. I am not saying it doesn’t exist but not more exaggerated than it exists even in the most advanced counties.

      What ever it is, it’s mostly at personal level and I don’t think it’s a cause for concern. With good government policy and education, it shouldn’t take long to address it.

      In India for example, with all the advances they made in economy, education, technology, I think they are a long way to go with there cultural baggage, that deals with equality.

      • Simon Kaleab

        Selam Berhe,

        Is there a pension scheme in Eritrea yet?

        • Berhe Y

          Hi Simon,

          I don’t believe so.

          I would not be surprised if they government cuts pension payments.

      • EritreanHillBilly

        Berhe you stated it clearly…when you said
        “I think before we speak about the sophisticated aspect like central or periphery, I believe is just academic exercise that doesn’t exist on the ground.”
        It is not academic… it is just pseudo-intellectual papagalloism.
        Read about “Sokal Affair”

      • saay7

        Selamat Berhe:

        Great to hear from you !

        I hope you can expound on your assertion about the irrelevance of center-periphery tension. There is a great deal of scholarship on the subject, not just within nations but also cultures, and I would love to hear more on the subject. In Eritrea, however well or badly it’s executed, the declared focus of the Center (central gov), is that it will place its focus on the peripheries. The deterioration of Asmara, which would have been unacceptable in any other capital city, is explained using that prism.

        The irony: those who are recruited to execute on this vision are an over representation of the Center.

        As to intermarriage, I am afraid you are describing a related but not altogether the same thing: tolerance. The article specially claim there is an inter-religion marriage and, with the exception of the Blin ethnic group, I don’t see a lot of that in Eritrea. Do you?


        • Aman Y.

          Selam Saay7,

          Thank you for what you do to inform, inspire, embolden, reconcile…

          I share your rhetorical question. There is no significance inter-religion marriage.

        • iSem

          Hi Sal:
          I totally agree with you on both. First the centre vs periphery control. As you said, this is one of the issue and even founding of the USA states and as you know there is a reason behind why the you guys, I mean the cons in USA opposed DC to be a a sate, and I also guess that was the reason NH was created and carved out of Mass, power of periphery in the senate.

          I also agree with you about the intermarriage. the professor is wrong. And tell me if you are sitting down because I want to announce that there is one thing I agreed with IA back in the days:) When asked about the wisdom of inter-ethnic marriages that happens in the field, he replied that: “actually the overwhelming majority of marriages occur within their own religious and ethnic confines”
          So there is of course intermarriages in the horn, but negligible and it does not spare societies from going to wars and killing each other. I always have this argument, but never here and I tell them look at the division between the Jewish and gentiles, Jesus’s ancestry is half gentile. Ruth was a gentile, so was Rebecca, so intermarriage occurred from time immemorial, and it is not something that those from the horn should brag about and even if that is true it has never helped to stop blood shed, the highlanders and Tigray intermarry but in 1998, they divorced in droves, and even the enlightened tegadalti the minority who inter-married, soon divorced. So what is the point?
          But there is one, a Tigringa married to Saho in ELF. When I run into him, I reminded him of what he told me once in Kassala and many things, of course he did not remember me and I was delighted to find out that his he was still married to his love

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Sem,

            Despite the intermarriage between the two major religion is extremely very rare in our country or our region, the intermarriage between the various Christian denominations is very common in our region. Just for the record.

    • መሃንድስ-ምዕባለ

      Hi Saay7,
      IMH opinion, I would say this.
      1. We have been told the ሓደ ህዝቢ ሓደ ልቢ ንሕና ዶ ንልብም ከልቢ thing and we take it for granted. We have been living in a parallel universe with out alternative truth.
      2. About that mixed ancestry thingy, I think we have but we wither don’t know our history or don’t want to admit. However, this is not true for the past 100 yrs or so. Oh, about the the one parent (on father’s side only), could that be most of the commentators are men? Just saying.
      I am waiting for the string theory to materialize and maybe our problem could be then be solved with that equation.

      • saay7

        Selamat Mehands:

        Don’t wait for the string theory: check out “quantum entanglement” on the zero degrees of separation between all living things. Except, apparently, between Amhara and Tigray: lots of people working overtime to sow the seeds of generational enmity.


        • መሃንድስ-ምዕባለ

          Hey Saay:
          Quantum entanglement seems to violate relativity when it comes to between Amhara and Tigray. I would blame the Ethiopian calendar, since I couldn’t find any other explanation.

  • Woldegabriel Tesfamariam

    Selam all,
    First, I would like to thank “Aware” for availing Prof. Ghirmay’s deliberations to us all. I haven’t watched the interview/discussion of Prof. Ghirmay, but based on your summary and analysis, which I find fair and unbiased, I am obliged to toss my views.
    Prof. Ghirmay asserts that “the political map and ensuing conflicts of the Horn of Africa continue to be driven by the Dynamics of the center-periphery ideological idea”. He expounds his idea by claiming the main cause for the present conflict within Ethiopia as well as with Eritrea emanates from: 1. Colonial and post colonial “center-periphery” Dynamics. 2. Historical geographic proximity of the main actors involved.
    I fully agree that the “center-periphery” Dynamics has been and will be the core cause for Ethiopia’s destability. Of course the Amhara chauvinists are at the forefront of this ideolo for the last 100 yrs, which the author properly elaborated. But the author somehow didn’t explicitly explained the political ideology or the role & behavior of the Tigrai regimes when they held power at the “center.” A cursory look into their political ideology (I mean their actions not words) depicts a
    more treacherous and hideous “center-periphery” Dynamics. Their political moves during their 30 yrs at the helm of Ethiopian politics as well as the king Yohannes and Alula atrocities are few of their dubious mentality that one cannot easily bypass. Both the Amhara and Tigrai regimes have the same “center-periphery” mentality that doesn’t wash away easily. Nonetheless, the need for creating a better environment fire peaceful coexistence with our neighbors remains a cumbersome challenge that cannot be avoided. Our future diplomats should realize that the “tiger never change it’s spots”
    I fail to understand the second point. Intelectually and politically (international) it may appear very appealing. The Horn of Africa approach or analysis is an isayas game-plan(escape plan) to buy time and decimate Eritrea’ s sovereignty. True the ” center- periphery” of Ethiopian is the main problem to the conflict with Eritrea, which we have to deal with. But it is not true to allude that the “conflicts of the Horn of Africa continue to be driven by the Dynamics of the center- periphery ideological idea”. With the exception of Ethiopia, ” the center- periphery” ideology doesn’t exist anywhere in the Horn or East African countries or regimes. It is uniquely Ethiopian. Hence, we have to deal with it either alone or together with our African brothers. We should be cautious not to be nudged into undesired corner and refrain from appeasing Ethiopia with it’s grandeur ineffectuality that will compound our problems

    • Mez

      Good day Woldegabriel T,

      Your articulation on the topic is interesting. BUT I don’t understand why you want to escape, IN TOTALITY, the “center-periphery” healthy debate except in Ethiopia. I believe it is rampant and wide spread topic in the Sudan (both Sudans), Eritrea, Somalia, and Kenya–to say the minimum.


    • gasha asha

      Selam Woldegabriel,

      You homed in on the central issues without even watching Prof. Ghirmai’s talk, which speaks to the fact you’ve also made a point of when thanking the AT for capturing the essence of the talk.

      For brevity let’s focus on the second point to which you have a bone to contend with in that your view appears to agree with some elements of it but out of abundance of caution you go for the jugular as to deny its existence “anywhere in the Horn or East African countries or regimes”. Mez gave a succinct answer to that by pointing out the “center-periphery” being “rampant and wide spread [from] Sudan (both Sudans), Eritrea, Somalia, and Kenya – to say the minimum.”

      Of course, your reservation is understandable in that Ethiopia’s imperially driven hegemonic history affects Eritrea and Eritreans directly whereas what Mez mentioned does not impact us as closely. But denying their existence in the Horn misses the point because, as AT suggests, when seen through macro-lens it gives us a chance to be more objective. It’s that lack of distancing that leads us to resort to ad hominem attacks, red herring, and what have you. That was the brilliance of Prof. Ghirmai’s approach, once one addresses issues in a holistic fashion as he did, it is easier to constructively engage on the issues.


    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam WT,

      Unless you don’t believe on Frderalism, the center/periphery political arguments do always exist in any kind of Federalism. The center/periphery argument is predicated on how much power distribution is appropriated between the “states” and the “central government” -the balance of power between the states and the central government. Federalism negates the power of unitary government that centralized the entire political power at the center. So if any kind of Federalism is introduced in the countries of the Horn, then the politics of “center and periphery”is the explanation of its “form and essence” in governing the people and its institutions, based on the constructional power distribution to the states and the central government. Sometimes we have to know on what we are arguing without arguing for the sake of arguments.