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Isaias Shrugged: And The State Media Nodded Its Head

A powerful title that authoritarians have, rivaling that of their role as Chief Commanding Officer of the armed forces, is that they are also the State’s Chief Epistemology Officer. Epistemology is the science which tries to answer the question “how do we know that what we think we know is true?” Authoritarians have one answer: truth is what I say it is. But wouldn’t the little people reject lies, as it would be so transparent? Hitler had an answer to this: he said, “The primitive simplicity of their minds [the masses] renders them a more easy prey to a BIG LIE than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies, but would be ashamed to tell big lies.”  Or, as my daughter’s favorite TV character, Dr. House, says, “everybody lies.” I was thinking of all this, while listening to a 6-hour interview of Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki, on the eve of New Years Day, conducted by Eri-TV’s Suleiman Osman Abbe.

I was, of course, also thinking: why am I doing this? Ah, I remember now: you know that section of the resume where they ask you to list things you have done to give back to the community? Until I develop the selflessness to volunteer in a soup kitchen and feed the homeless I think this will have to do: I gave up 6 hours of my life so I can serve you, you ungrateful readers, and give you a digest of what was said. But more selfishly, since Eritrea has no constitution, no political parties, no elections and no parliament, the president’s New Year Interview is about as close as we can get to divine what will happen in 2012. These interviews are also a great opportunity for me to polish my Tigrigna and improve my fluency in Higdefese. Try this: “Regardless of the military adventurism (wetehaderawi enderatat) of the superpowers (le’Eli Hayal), if we have a special focus (fluy qolahta) on the big picture (iti Abi si’eli), our road map (godena karta) and our compass (bosela), and if we just discard the keywords (mefateh Kalat) of supply and demand (teleb qereb), we know that without a good fiscal (fiscalawi) policy and sustainable (zelaqi) economic growth and performance (adma’Enet), what will result is societal polarization (mtfnan),  an offshoot (chaleda) of lack of equitable distribution of resources (tsegatat), made worse by speculators (awaka’ati)—it is all a zero sum (dmr bado) game, progress in name only (smawi), and our subsidies (degoma) are an imperfect but best of our choices (hryat)”. Of course, Isaias says this in droning tone, and he is so incapable of being succinct and he is weak in resisting the urge to not pursue every thought bubble that pops in his head, his speeches should come with <tangent> </off tangent> warnings. This is why it takes him 20 minutes to answer one question, but I am getting ahead of myself.

How do you summarize a 6-hour interview which seems to have been produced by Xanax to supplement their sleeping pill? Here’s how I intend to provide the digest: it will be in parts. And since I never read serialized articles (Part 1, Part 2, Part 27), I don’t expect you to do that either. So I will try to trick you by giving you one heading (Isaias Shrugged:) followed by a changing subheading every time. “Isaias Shrugged” (yes it is stolen from Atlas Shrugged) because Isaias has reached the pinnacle of power where he feels completely un-threatened and bored by it all. There is a danger that some of you “I-browse-but-I-don’t-read” folks will think you have already read a new article you haven’t read, or you will lie and say you did/didn’t read it when you actually didn’t/did, but that’s ok because in the words of Dr. House: “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only variable is about what.”

Isaias Shrugged And The State Media Nodded Its Head

Some Eritreans cannot understand why some of us were such enthusiastic supporters of the short-lived Eritrean private press (September 2000 – September 2001.) The critics miss the point when they mention how the reporters were “accomplices” to the regime until 2000, how they themselves were marinated in PFDJ culture, or whatever. Their biggest achievement was to break through the PFDJ culture (carried forward from EPLF) of creating a bubble where only the PFDJ hierarchy got to define what truth or reality is. To repeat something I am sure I have mentioned before, advanced cultures and primitive cultures have vastly different definition of what epilepsy is: one says it is an unusually hyperactive electrical activity in the brain, and another says it’s possession by evil spirits. Within each bubble, the authority figures—the medical doctor in advanced societies and the witch doctor in primitive societies—are totally certain of their diagnosis.  It is their reality, their truth.

The reason it was critically important to shut down the Eritrean private media was that they were presenting a reality, a truth, far different from the official version. They burst the bubble. In fact, before the Eritrean officials settled on the reason for arresting, exiling and killing them—the always reliable “treason” without evidence allegation—the rationale they were giving was that the private media was introducing “confusion” (hnfishfish) to the poor Eritrean public who presumably prefers uniform but false information (national unity) over diverse but true information (polarization). So the oddity was not that the private press has been made to permanently disappear, but that it was allowed to even exist for a year—which had a lot to do with the then Minister of Information, Beraki Habteselasse, an enlightened guy who has also been made to disappear into Eira Eiro.

So, if you are an Eritrean journalist who works for the State media, who knows of or has heard of people his/her own age who haven’t been heard from in 10 years, and you have nobody and nothing to protect you (no journalist guild, no parliament) from their fate if you deviate even slightly into taboo territory, what are you supposed to do? Your biggest priority, it appears to me, is to know where the red lines are and to stay a few miles away from this electrified red fence. It is to nod your head in agreement to everything that the Epistemologist says.

And if the truth is what Isaias Afwerki says it is, what kind of questions are you allowed to ask without coming even close to the red fence? Simple: you just quote back past statements of Isaias Afwerki (because he and only he defines not just the truth but what are non-taboo subjects) and ask him to clarify them further. He was right then; he is right now; he will be right in the future: no fear of contradictions. After a while, it really resembles the Saturday Night Live skit of The Chris Farley Show. Chris Farley (RIP), hosting a show, asks his guests a series of “remember when….?” questions. That’s it: pure nostalgia. Funny if it is a comedy show, pretty sad for a serious interview with the head of state.

This is not criticism of the interviewer Suleiman Osman Abbe who probably would be, in a free society, a great interviewer. Just the bubble he is forced to live in:

Kbur president, this is what you said last year referencing the period between the end of the Cold War and the financial meltdown, tell us more. Kbur president, what can we expect next based on your analysis? Where is the world headed? Kbur president, this is what you said at the 66th General Assembly of the UN…. Kbur president, this is what you had said after the uprising in North Africa and the Middle East last year.  Kbur president, this is what you said regarding Israel and Palestine. Kbur president, this is what you had said regarding the Horn of Africa, Africa’s Renaissance, IGAD, Somalia, Sudan. Kbur president, this is what our National Charter says about the public and private sector… Kbur president, this is what you said about our mining strategy… Kbur president, according to the white paper you presented at the Cabinet of Ministers, this is what you said about development of infrastructure, food security, education policy, housing, ports, social services, subsidies, human development, restructuring, youth, women….. Kbur president, this is what you said last year on Independence Day….

It is like your kid asking you to read her/him the same bedtime story because new stories may be scary: just lull me to sleep papa Isaias. Tell me everything is going to be fine.

Consider this: Eritrea supposedly has a constitution. Why would the interviewer reference a document, the National Charter (actually the political programme of the ruling party, the PFDJ) which was prepared in 1994 but not cite anything from the National Constitution, which was ratified in 1997, which is more recent? Not just the interviewer: all the mass organizations including YPFDJ will quote the Charter but never the Constitution: why is that? Because the Charter exists and the Constitution doesn’t exist. And who gets to decide what exists and doesn’t exist is the Chief Epistemology Officer (CEO).

When the interviewer is not asking questions that are essentially regurgitation of what has already been said and what the CEO has given a green light by saying it is now safe to talk about them (example: Arabic language in schools), then there is a great deal of trepidation and loading the question in a way that does not get him in trouble. My favorite deals with elections in Eritrea. A straightforward question would be like the one Aljazeera asked: “when will you have national elections in Eritrea?” A more probing question would be, “As Secretary General of the Transitional Government of Eritrea, you had indicated that Eritrea would have a multi-party system, but later on you said that “nobody promises anybody anything in this country” and that we would not be ready for that for 3 decades, maybe more. Can you explain yourself?” Instead, this is what we get from the interviewer: “even opponents concede that if we were to hold elections not once but even 10 times, the PFDJ would prevail. So to deny the opponents the subterfuge of pretending to be democracy advocates, some say we should hold elections….” Talk about a loaded question: who accepts that premise? Who says, in the year 2011, that the PFDJ is assured of a win if it has a free and fair election even once, much less repeatedly?

The electrified red fence is everywhere, even on questions that are asked to “humanize” Isaias Afwerki, but always end up showing him to be, um, different. “How is your health?”  “Do you sleep at all?” Let’s say you noticed, as the interviewer did, that Isaias Afwerki was reading a book for 5 hours straight and that he was highlighting the sections which interest him. You are a journalist: what questions would you ask? Wouldn’t you ask: what was the book you were reading? What kinds of book do you usually like to read? Of course you would. Now think like a journalist who works for the State media and you are not sure if that is an allowed question. What do you ask? You ask: “do you have a message (advice) to Eritreans who do not read and how they can develop the reading habit?” How can they be more like you, O all knowing demi-god?

In case you are wondering, the president’s answer was that he is not prone to dispensing advice. I will now pause to let those of you who follow state media to laugh uproariously.  As to those of you who don’t: a good percentage of the state media reports are about how Isaias Afwerki went on a field trip and dispensed advice—he inspected and gave “directives” to an architect on how to build a bridge or a dam; he gave “agricultural advice” to a farmer…

Pointing this contradiction would be a big taboo. Welcome to the Bubble. A world kid’s gloves and bopping heads doesn’t prepare you for the real world of journalism.  And this is why, outside the bubble of Eri-TV, Isaias Afwerki comes across as a brute, a bully and a fool when he is interviewed by international media.

Next: Isaias Shrugged And The World Rolled Its Eyes

About Salyounis

Saleh Younis (SAAY) has been writing about Eritrea since 1994 when he published "Eritrean Exponent", a quarterly print journal. His writing has been published in several media outlets including Dehai, Eritrean Studies Review, Visafric, Asmarino and, of course, Awate where his column has appeared since the launch of the website in 2000. Focusing on political, economic, educational policies, he approaches his writing from the perspective of the individual citizens' civil liberties and how collectivist governments and overbearing organizations trample all over it in pursuit of their interests. SAAY is the president and CEO of a college with a focus in sound arts and video games and his writing often veers to music critique. He has an MBA from Golden Gate University and a BA from St Mary's College.

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  • Fekrawi

    Oh may be Esu was reading and summarizing Mein Kampf of Adolf Hitler on his five hour flight!!! I dont think our leader/oppressor is reading the right kind of books obviously.

  • ናይ ሸፋቱ ማሕበር፣ ደም ሰብ ዝድራራ
    ፖለቲካኣ ረሳሕ ናይ ዓዋሉ ሽጣራ
    ኣዝማደይ ወዲኣቶም በብታራ
    78 ምሽ ሱዳን ክትኣቱ ቀሪባ ኔራ
    ከይትተርፍ በቲ ዝዘርጠጠቶ በሪራ
    ሳላ ወያነ እንደሞ ተሰቲራ፣
    91 ቆርበት በጊዕ ወድያ ክሳዕ ኣጽፋራ
    ኣስመራ ከተፍ በለት ምዳዳ ኣመንዝራ
    ከም ብዓልቲ ሓይሊ ጎረባብቲ ፋሓጪራ
    98 እንዶ እሞ ዓቢ ጌጋ ጌራ
    ገፋሕፋሕ ክትብል በቲ ጨጋዕ ኣእጋራ
    ካብ ኣፍ ኣናብስ ዓጽሚ ክትምንዝዕ ሞኪራ
    ዓድዋ፣ ዓዲግራት ዝተሰርሐ ዱላ ምስ ተርተራ
    “መኻልፍ” እዩ በለት ንህዝብና ኣሕፊራ
    “ብዘይሓልፍ” ተማሂረ በለት ዊስኪ ምስ ኣዓመራ
    ደቂ ዓደይ፣ ሃገር ጸውዑ እንተበልኩዎም ሰምዮምለይ “ኤርትራ”
    ኣይሰምዑን ግዲ ኾይኖም ሽማ ምቕያራ
    ብሰብ ከይርድኡ፣ ንገርዎም ሓደራ
    “ዘርኢ መርገም፣ ዓውዲ ሬሳ” እያ ተባሂላ ።

  • wed garza

    Well done Saleh,
    The poor journalist (Osman abbe) kept on cleaning the mines along his feet while the poor people being suffocated by the bubble of the illusion, a psychopat living on hallucinations for years now. when the years approaching squeezing him upto most gasping breathe to bubble excels Mengistu Hailemariam’s monolog then. I think the marathon has been started and seems to reach its final destination soon.
    After all thanks again younis for your smart analysis and make things clear and understandable by all.

  • Ordinary4rueloflaw


    can’t speak for others, but elaborating as to what we (your amichettat fans ) meant by what was voiced from our angle. we are neither criticizing/trivalizing/questioning your immense contributions pre 1998 nor during & post 1998. so did we too in our all the limitations we had as college students in the early/late early 90s: the here and there of our articles, our contributions from our meager pockets (for the orphans, for tree, for Asmarion, for Bond, the 2% willingly.. being at the fronline of the bayarea 98-00 demos –remember the pics you took with Tekea and PFDJ’s ugly accusations?… and your father’s imprisonment….and so as our Lady the beautiful SADE said it all .. ” by your side” we were too.. you just didn’t know it… in the new Eritrean frontier that we had plunged in … we did all we could as outsiders… we can send you a copy of our bonds, 2% receipts.. all those darn receipts … until the day that we surely cut it off on Jan 2001 after our very first eye-opener visit/return ever to Asmara after realizing how the country was run… and since then.. let alonr to support, we attended NOT a single festival or wedding. we self imposed! and we always wondered why Eritreans could not do their part.

    what we had stated about you is purely about your -individuality- and we had stated the 2 key valid points we raised in the previous feedbacks. what we are saying is what we had said. Has the conviction/individuality somehow, that we thought there was , was compromised or wasn;t actullay there in the first place to our expectation ?

    we had expected more from a man that came from Africa and made it to the top in the Silicon Valley and who was gifted to manage a medium size company, a man who could become a President of an American college who is at the forefront in strategizing and helping America’s young minds to extract their potential to the max….. and how can we not be disappointed when we have Africa at Heart?

    Never mind to those -browny noses- who tend to ጦብሎቅሎቅ in their no so territory. you are told, the man needs no help. Go seek some solace and individuality instead. Matters NONE whether we reveal our name or NOT! None whatsoever! .. it is what we speak of that matters. when those political-minds have NO beans to spill, then like father-like-son (PFDJ and its lots) they resort to “reveal your name” probability and statistics mantra to escape from the discourse that is in swing. The pendulum is swinging and the needle is pacing up & down. dart the needle. don’t be a brown nose . spill your beans if you have some!

    Sal – this wrap it up for us and we wish you the best of 2012!
    we used to joke that we would hook you up with one of our Amiches beauty so you the Asmara breed would explore the type of romance that No Asmara breed Lady knows to spill :-). And we salute you for all your contributions with these lovely Muluken songs. we mean no disrespect and harshness. simply our observation and expectation in a nutshell. Our Desset sends this your way:

    and Darling Eritrea needs to dig ditch to capture its dry & wet tears:

  • Wedi_Hager

    Dear, Salih AA, Don’t pay too much attention to the ‘in hindsight criticizers’.
    Almost every Eritrean was supportive of the GoE back in the 90’s specially when the war broke out. Only a handful opposed the government.
    Besides what was to ciriticize PIA for, back then?
    For banning private press? We had a bunch of them.
    For shelving the constitution? It hadn’t been written yet.
    For not holding election? The constitution hadn’t been ratified yet and the provosional government was within its duration.
    For jailing the G-15? They hadn’t been jailed yet.
    For starting the war? Other than Isaias & Meles, no one had known it yet.
    So what problems did the critics have back then exactly?

    • Gual b’Alti dragon w’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

      Wedi Hager,

      As they say, assumption is the mother of all *&% ups. Of course, the intelligenica community assumed that, Isaias couldn’t have been the main culprit of the war. One could clearly see that there had been a pre-concienved judgment where the people on the other side of the fence had a keen sense of reversing the hard earned Eritrean independence. And Isaias the man with an acute sense of timing brilliantly capitalized on the said unfortunate mind set and made the rest of us believe that he was the victim. Sal is accusing me of hiding behind a pen name and for not voicing my indignation over the years particularly when the misleading propaganda was unleashed left and right. I sure take his accusation to heart and I see element of truth in them however, I am not a certain personality as he occupies the lime light in the Eritrean political discourse where he is second to none with his remarkable pen. Simply put, I was and still am an average Abrehet if you will. One could give them the benefit of the doubt where one weighs into the narrative of history pertaining that particular time frame but at the very least what I am saying is, it would be prudent if they come forward and acknowledge the wrong doing on their part.

  • Saleh AA Younis

    Ordinary, Gual Be’Ati (love that name) and all:

    I find that those who love to quote us from our Dehai days are quite selective. With respect, you are guilty of omission and perhaps misrepresentation because you are trying to get to people’s motivation:

    (1) there was a dehai prior to the breakout of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia in May 1998. If you want to get the complete profile of the writer, it would seem to me that you would want to know what was the opinion of the writer regarding Isaias and PFDJ in 1997, 1996, 1995, etc. Because, without that context, it is easy to conclude: the guy supported Isaias/PFDJ wholeheartedly (1998-2000) and turned against him only because he “lost the war.” At the bottom of this posting, I will give you a link to “The Pot & The Kettle” and “The 3 Parties in Eritrea” (from 1997) which should tell you that I was no big fan of Isaias/PFDJ—particularly after I saw the “Press Proclamation” which was my first warning that the one-party state is coming.

    (2) In 1998, when the war broke out, the dysfunctional Eritrean government had NO WEBSITE, no means of communication to the world: it was a completely inarticulate beast. Some of us who had read Ethiopian history and its ability to manipulate world opinion using the Pan-African card, the victim-of-fascist-Italy card, the Haile-Selasse-attended-Kennedy’s-funeral card, as well as its addiction to empire extension, felt we had an obligation to counter the propaganda blitzkrieg that was about to rain on Eritrea. Our writing was not focused on polishing the image of the PFDJ but on exposing the tendency of the Ethiopian regime to exaggerate and, occasionally, make up stories. The whole time we were writing public articles, we had internal debates on what the PFDJ is doing wrong and why we should wait until the end of the war to bring it to the world’s attention. Thus the “twgaHmo” files…

    (3) Good people can have honest disagreement about this. Unless you were too young to write in 1998-2000, unless you didn’t have the $20 annual fee required to join Dehai, unless you were illiterate in 1998-200, if you are telling me that you were displeased by what people were doing in 1998-2000 but you said nothing then, well then, you have to ask yourself: “why?” And, no disrespect, but you pretty much give up the moral high ground, don’t you. You saw something that you fundamentally disagree with was happening—writers were “cheering” for war—and yet you said NOTHING? I would think that unless you fit the three disqualifiers (illiterate and/or too poor to afford $20 annual fee), then you have a “whole lotta ‘splaining to do.” Only two people who felt the way you do (that there was too much war mongering and chest pumping going on) stood up to public pressure and said their piece: Saleh Gadi Johar, and Dawit Mesfin.

    Finally, the link: I wrote this in 1997…

    • Saleh AA Younis

      I forgot the second link: “The Pot & The Kettle” from Dehai, 1997:

    • Gual b’Alti dragon w’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      Is it two thousand articles and counting to your credit? Or is it already a marathon of articles? As I have read pretty much all of your articles prior to 1998 and after, I have never come across which even remotely allude to your error of judgment in giving your mighty pen to Isaias as he was defying the world pressure when he felt at ease with his defunct motto, “It would be tantamount to the Sun refusing to rise for us to roll back from Badme”. There is no doubt that, you dug your heels firm in the early years of Eritrea’s independence even though it was incredibly difficult to sail against the tide as Isaias was at the pinnacle of his popularity. To be more precise, you never resigned from criticising the Isaias regime from the outset where you won the hearts and minds of the rest of us and looked up to you not only as a person with a razor sharp intellect but of course, a person of principles as well. You said that, the regime in Eritrea didn’t have a website back then and it couldn’t have influenced your take on the war. You’re probably right but the regime was astute enough to use all the western media outlets (BBC to mention but a few) as he went on an aggressive media offensive. And of course, it shouldn’t be a brainer to see the motive. That is, it was easy to sell to the world a psychology of a bigger nation is invading not only a small nation but a neophyte nation as well. And it was then only then, you fell to the aberrant psychology and thought it was an extension of as you put it, a Colonial Ethiopia and its leaders restive ambition to take the Jewel in the sea back. The rather puzzling question worth sixty thousand Naqfa however remains: if you have understood the nature of Isaias since his Gedli years and opted to remain true to your principles and oppose him till Kingdom comes, what was the reason then you fell to his charms when the war broke out? In hindsight, it is known that, Isaias took all of us for a free ride and duped us into believing that, he was the victim. When the rest of us on the periphery made peace with our inner selves as we reflect on our naive self, for people like you on the spot light and potential leaders in a post-Isaias Eritrea, it would be prudent to come forward and acknowledge the error of judgment on your part. That would suffice.

      • Saleh AA Younis

        Gual b’Ati:

        You said:

        “The rather puzzling question worth sixty thousand Naqfa however remains: if you have understood the nature of Isaias since his Gedli years and opted to remain true to your principles and oppose him till Kingdom comes, what was the reason then you fell to his charms when the war broke out?”

        Your premise is wrong. Obviously you didn’t read the two articles I posted. There were many things I admired about the EPLF/PFDJ including its compulsory national service (then sold as a 2 year service), its assertive foreign policy (before assertive became aggressive), its re-alignment of Eritrea’s provinces into administrative zones, its relatively participatory constitutional drafting process (before we learned that all the input was sent straight to the trash bin.) So I was, like many Eritreans, a great admirer of the PFDJ’s work ethic, its obsession with developing Eritrea, and a critic of its denial of due process going back to 1996.

        But the question is, gual b’Ati, if my assumption is right and you saw all the wrong that was occuring then, why did you wait until now (and even now using a pen name) to share your wisdom with the rest of the classroom? What was it that was preventing you in 2000, 1999, 1998 and the years before from saying your piece? You didn’t have the $20 annual fee? You hadn’t mastered the English language then? Why the Monday morning quarterbacking now when you have said your piece then?

        • Gual b’Alti dragon w’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


          I am still laughing. I was a financially struggling undergrad student back then where I couldn’t afford to religiously pay the $20.00 fees. And of course, my English was way under the par where I had to polish it over the years by reading your otherwise lucid articles. Much respect.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Saleh, I admire those patient people among us who listen the interview to the last including you. I start to concentrate on this interview after you put this article in front of my display only. What a boring and long interview men?
    I ask to myself “Kokhob, What will you ask if you are the interviewer?” After trying to answer I said BESME AB WELDEMENFES QUDUS . And then I ask Again What if this interviewer was Saleh? HAAA We could have seen a war between the Angele and the devil. Thanks god there is no such thing as “IF”.
    Isn’t that boring to hear such nonsense interview for this much time? As for me I didn’t learn anything out of that long interview.
    Saleh, (NZEYFELTO MES YETRTO). Only the reader who doesn’t know who is Saleh will believe that you learn Tigrigna from this interview. Why are you doing this to us?
    As usual let me frankly say we are lucky to have people like you. On this article you let everybody get mind sport. Everyone has chosen which type of exercise has to perform and I have chosen mine. Here it is…
    I see and believe Tigrigna is in danger with PFDJ’s administration. Why? Everything is connected and language goes wider with new developments in all sectors. Neither the words used like infrastructure was used much nor the words that we find under “infrastructure”. The reason is because only when you start working and creating new technology you need new words.
    But I am very sorry to see our beloved language Tigrigna didn’t move ahead. Which engineering filed is functioning to see our national language going bigger? NIL
    Polytechnic of Bahirdar (today’s university) in Ethiopia still maintain the story of our great men who were studying at the beginning of 70’s. Ask how much our Eritrean young guys of those days have shown their creativity. Those intelligent Eritrean minds are now dead alive in Eritrea. This is if the men are alive biologically talking (if not killed, poisoned, poisoned or left the country.) Because the world has gone much advanced very fast and we can say the knowledge of those days is obsolete. If you see an engineer who came from abroad to serve his country after the so call freedom years, visit him and you will find him zero. You can imagine now how much the death of those cleaver men and women has paralyzed our language. Yes it is the industrial, economical, and others all fields development that allows and gives chance to have new words and let the dead once alive. Language is a symbol that let us communicate and communication is needed when you have a government that allows you to be civilized.
    For example take “Merbeb Habereta” If we talk about it and take the line of telecommunication as example, the world is using fourth generation and 4G (LTE). Those systems and equipment plus software are not working in Eritrea. This new names and words are not known in Eritrea because we don’t need them since we are not using them. POOR TIGRIGNA,
    I am trying to say that our beloved Tigrigna will need doctors for intensive care and we should prepare a unit that will take care of it (ICU). Again our language is but lucky to be the daughter of ge’ez which makes it the sister of Amharic and Arabic. This will support us in creating and renewing or modifying and also let the dead words alive from the beginning of our new democratic Eritrea in the future. Above all there is a very near Tigrigna speaking society (Tigray of Ethiopia) which is advancing very much in all sectors and this will help a lot, although we are still hearing from PFDJ supporters that Weyane is our enemy, that they are back warded people etc, the reality says the other way round.
    I better not say anything of what he(PIA) give as a reason to help Al Shabab .but the three Italian colony countries have suffered the one party (HADE LIBI) governments of the late Syed Bare, and Gaddafi and PIA. Since we have the experience of after maths in regard two countries, we don’t have to go through the same or similar journey after removing PFDJ. And it seems the congress in Hawasa was the result of what we learned.
    Dear brother Saleh and all,
    Tigrigna needs our support and we will need to work hard more than other languages including English because other languages are spoken by countries already developed or on building their countries. For example Arabic language is ready for us as most Arab countries are rich and their industries are growing. The same is with our other languages …
    But please correct me if I am wrong.

  • Hey Ordinary, take it easy bro. The way you are reacting, will force your heart to beat exponentially, extraordenrely, and offcourse uninfinitly fast and inevitably lead to your demise. And i can imagine without MICKAEL (mick wedi adinifas) Hah hah hah……

  • Wedi_Hager

    Since independence, many Tigrinya words have been imported from English, and I personally think it is a good thing. It makes our lives a little easier as far as communications goes because they can be readily converted into English or Tigrinya. What we need next is a google English-Tigirnya translation. Please don’t embarrass me by telling me we already have that. 🙂
    Out of the many post-independence Tigrinya, here are few I can remember for now:
    1) Infrastracture = tihti qirxi
    2) Internet = merbeb Habereta
    3) Nuclear waste = xerghi … (I am sure you are impresed by that one)
    4) Space shuttle = menkorkur h’wa
    5) Energy = xe’at …. (I love this one)
    6) Multi-party = hbre-selftat
    7) Double standard = dirb meleki’e (this one is pathatic)
    8) Monitoring group = qafir (I have no idea where VoA-Tigrinya got that from. sounds Arabic though)
    9) Arab Spring = xidya areb
    10) CIA = ma.we.s (ma’ekelay wekil slela – courtesy of PIA)

  • Ordinary4rueloflaw

    No disrespect from our corner to you as well. After all, you are a man that needs no defence by any Eritrean’s slice-of-skull such as some jumpy the የእርጎ ዝንብ here !. But, it surprises us as to why some jumpy & jerky so quickly sandiwiched in a rock that is not their weight to assist a man that is possessed with a rocket pen that has proved it to countless Eritreans & ethiopians. Can’t they just sit-back and gauge their deficient-Individual-syndrome and startegize in elevating it to the next level first!?

    Sal -we say owe your being a fortunate African that has been blesssed by nature & nurture to perhaps end up where you have. Because countless Africans with excruciatingly beautiful minds have been wasted. And, in Sal, we had thought we had found some virture of individuality that would reflect the minds + hearts of those fallen yesteryear youth in the landscape of eritrea.. in the streets of Addis when (like our Eri big bro ring leader who was executed in front of our eyes on that Redy Red-terror-Day of 1977 young to die let alone to know bullet…) …we had thought Sal was an individual with astonishing individuality that would honestly, sincerely (without being bias, siding with no one) solidly, richly, frugally speak of these wasted Eritreans, Ethiopians minds (without a politicized mind as we care less about the mess) …yet … yet… we had puffed our ballon in him .. our admiration of the man ..had to hit and bounce off the wall.

    If it hadn’t been in this belief and conviction that convinced us in ablink-of-an-eye that made us jump on the legal case of Saleh Gadi to chip in the minimum $250.00. mind you whichever way you, now, arrogantly would brush it off, belittling it perhaps .. many Higlanders jumped on. That is our hard earned money. That is our darn TRUST! because we believed in the duo.

    Yet, as time exponentially goes by to infinity as it eventually and inevitably will, contradictions & Actions has taught us the knuckleheads a lesson of our people & as to why it is the mess it is. Us, the outsiders to the eritrean world .. when we foolishyly beautify, romanticize what Eritrea and its people could have been …and then .. it gets worse when we hear a man “a diplomat, a tegadaly” in a status of Ato Haile Menkerios publicly saying that ..”I am a Western product..” … you just wonder .. just wonder … so who shaped, molded our first 12 years of foundation? Western philosophers, and intellects? what a GUD we are!

  • Selam Sal,
    Wow, you have poked to the central nervous system of the double-faced political actors. These are samples of those who support you during day time and oppose you during night time. Not only that, they are probably people who were at one point with you and denied three times “before the cock-crow” like what peter did for jesus christ. Remember they are oriented by the epistimologist of Eritrea you aptly described him. When you touched their language it becomes nerve breaking. Furthermore, What always amazed me than any thing else is that you fully understand their cultural language sometimes alien to the bystander.

    • Gual b’Alti dragon w’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      Integrity is the word of the day. And of course, vacillation was what came out of the bag when Sal and others were tested if their hard earned intellectual integrity was intact. But obviously there was a crack all over. I am not sure if you’re a late comer to the hub of intellectual center where at times popularity contest takes a firm hold but if you care, I recommend you to see into the archives of the plethora of articles which were penned during the first years of the Badme war then you will see who left the Don in Asmara dry after he lost the war like a beyond repair animal. That is, if I have to be more blunt, had Isaias won the war, we would have seen Sal and others cheered and applauded in They say, history is written by the victorious. Dig?

      • Gual b’Alti dragon,

        The thing that differntiate between you and him is..Sal fights on the side of the oppressed people and you on the side of the regime. Sal stood with the people during the war and when the war ended he stood against the despot at the helm of power. What else has to do other than to defend the interest of the people. Suppose he was the instrument of the regime or the culprit of the evils that befall to our people, would you raise questions of intellectual integrity? To the Eritrean people Sal has the highest intellectual integrity who fights wrong as he see it. When Sal was fighting against the war, he saw the evils and the deceitful act of the regime that is why he start to lament as he did in his “tewgahmo,”…. an original piece that taught that public the awaiting struggle to liberate the Eritrean people…the question of rule of law, constitutional democracy , justice..etc. In fact he is one of the few farsighted intellectual small outfits. I wish you are one of them. Finally let me assure you that I have a separate file sal’s articles… the way, who doesn’t for one who is privy to the Eritrean politics?

        • Gual b’Alti dragon w’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


          You seem to be reading something that is not there. I have never been the supporter of the regime and I sure know that I will never be one either. There is no doubt that, Sal has the knack for the English language. He is prolific if that was the right word I was looking for. He could be polemicist of the highest caliber but proficiency in a language alone doesn’t cut it if the moral dimension is lacking. Back in my undergrad years that is in the mid 90s, I tuned in to where the real deal cerebral personalities threw ideas ranging from politics, history, philosophy, literature, science and arts. And Sal among others was the high-priest extraordinarae. As the rest of us (funs) were infatuated with the extraordinary time of intellectual flare ups, the war broke out. And the entire Dehai who-is-who mobilized their efforts in helping Isaias to disseminate his propaganda war machinery. If they had an iota of intellectual integrity in them, they should have at least probed the very cause of the war instead of hasting onto defending him. Eritrea was not at war, Isaias was at war. Later on, they turned against him not because he was wrong for starting the war but because he lost the war.

          • Gual b’ Alti Dragon,

            I completely agree with the notion you pointed out and that is “they should have at least probed the very issue of the war instead of hasting onto defending him.” But at least Sal understood the deceitful propaganda machine of the regime fast enough and re-direct his effort to the very important issue of the people and keep hammering more than any body in the current fiasco of Eritrean politics. See to what he is doing now rather than to what he had been cheated during the border war issue.

        • Kokhob Selam

          The man is very fast in understanding things. We have some gifted people by nature that makes them unique and we should be proud of them. Additional to this some like Saleh own honesty which is the best policy of all times.
 is valid even to tell the truth in advance to those who oppose the regime but don’t want to see democratic nation. I wish I see it again.

  • Ordinary;
    Don’t jock with them,they are Tigrigna from Kebessa and they are Muslim like Metahit Ok (Higi Girm by Tesfia Mahari Fihira). Bosela; Mtfinnan; Chaleda; Awaka’ati; Dmr bado; Fluy qolahta; Godena Karta

    Thanks Isaias Eti Nusu.You beat it!!

  • sara

    ordinary…. you are right , i was about to raise this issue with sal… if you hadn’t come up with this now….
    what is happening with this guy….this days… i am wondering!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Gual b’Alti dragon w’qatto (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


    I sure share your lamentation. Back in the days when Sal occupied the lime light, the coming of age generation including myself found a hero in him not only as an erudite but as scribe par excellence as well. This was when was the hub of intellectual pantheon way before it lost its luster and succumbed to the whims of the Don in Eritrea. But of course, something happened. It changed everything. The year was 1998. When the Don in Asmara rolled his tanks into Badme, people like Salih Younis hop on the Don’s wagon and defended him like there was no tomorrow. The rosy articles with an utter condescending posture and a contempt to the people on the other side of the fence filled the websites including VisAfric and as well. It was then and only then Salih and others turned from a real deal scribes into entertainers par excellence where the rest of us are still struggling to take them serious.

  • Wedi_Hager

    ‘kubur president, you had correctly predicted this will happen…’ is the favorite line of EriTV interviewers.
    kubur president, you had correctly said that next yr will be 2012, and here it is 2012. Exactly as you said it. Tell us how you are able to precisely predict these things? (Ok, a bit stretch..but you get the idea.)

    But seriuosly, I felt sorry for the poor wedi Abbe. He was nodding the whole freaking time. He must have had neck ache afterwords. It’s truly torture. Thank God they do this twise a year only!
    By the way, I don’t see wedi Abbe as a good interviewer. He is better at public announcements such as ‘Hafeshawi filtet’ and other pbulic events. He is an orater, not interviewer. While there, how about that Hailom Bereke? He really terrifies me. You would think a national disaster is being announced by listening to his reporting.
    Back to the PFDJ: by issueing announcements way ahead, the regime builds up anticipation only for the public to end up getting the same Q&A from last yr, or the previous yr, or the one prior to that, or the one from 5 yrs ago…..

    On the question of election, PIA was as combative and uncooperative as ever. He basically shot it down by saying it is not ‘our’ priority at this time. But his response in NY in November was quiet different. Back then, answering to a question, he said that the political situation can not be delayed indefinetly and that plans were in place to move forward. But of course everyone knew that this was one of the fake answer he gives when cornered. Last year in Uganda, answering to a merchant’s query about the dollar-to-nakfa conversion rate, PIA pretended to show sympathy and he indicated that there was a plan in one year or so to revise it and improvements will be made. Another ‘cornered’ answer.

  • Ordinary4rueloflaw

    Sal said:
    “These interviews are also a great opportunity for me to polish my Tigrigna and improve my fluency in Higdefese… if we have a special focus (fluy qolahta)… should have been (fluy atekuro).. fluy Qolahetta = special attention ..on the big picture (iti Abi si’eli),… should have been (n’kulu b’zekabeb menetsir) ..our road map (godena karta) … should have been (NeserHalu nayaserareHa Qedi) … … performance (adma’Enet), …should have been (B’QuEnet aserarHanan witseItun)…… societal polarization (mtfnan).. should have been… (, an offshoot (chaleda) of lack of equitable distribution of resources (tsegatat), … should have been (Qerebat )….made worse by speculators (awaka’iti)… should have been (nay sene moGet chelettat.. nay G’mt chelettat)…our choices (hryat)”. …. should have been (m’rchattat) as “hryat = selection/pick

    ..see we told you! .. we are better off in TiGrNa than the Asmara breeds. Reason? ..roaming the streets of Addis from afar ..imginatively, beautifully … had our naive minds capturing Eritrea & its people as something special and totaooed it in our minds and proudly learned the TiGrgna lingua with Love & respect while the Asmara breeds, (the last 20 years with the circle of Eritreans both physically and virtually showed us) deadly, desperately trying to be someone else. No wonder Eritrea has so many articulate writers in English and most of them being the Asmara breeds. and most of them Quote Western philosophers and that says it all!

    sal you disappointed us like no-one in deed! us, we better stick with our Hero Ethiopia’s Oromay writer BeAlu Girma that defied dergue and ended up liquidated leaving 3 kids behind!

    • Saleh AA Younis

      Selamat Ordinary:

      No disrespect but take up all your corrections to Baba Isaias. All the literal translations of Godena Karta for road map, Mefateh Kalat for keywords, globawi for global… not to mention “shgr yelen, abzkone gze” for “no problem, anytime” and “tiHti Edme” for “underage” are the inventions of Nsu. There are many more, if you would like more examples. This is one of the few reasons to listen to an Isaias interview, to learn Shinglish (shabait English) and be entertained… It is particularly entertaining when a man who rails against the cultural domination of the US not only sports Western attire (with Jontra haircut and dictators sunglasses) but also speaks Tigrigna the way an American who learned Tigrigna as a second language would.

      No comment on the rest of “roaming the streets, etc…”:-)

      All the best

    • Ordinary,
      Not really ordinary. You are gutless who even does not have the courage to write under your baptized name. Sal is a prolific and authentic writer who is devoted to wake the sedated mind of Eritreans like yourself and instill courage who even scare from remote voice of deki-hidertna. Hah hah..hah you are calling him to defy Issaias the brutal despot inside Eritrea and being liquidated leaving his kids. Compare yourself in the pits somewhere and Sal who is enlightening his people about the darkness of Eritrea today. If this is shitara at all, it is shitra poor-shitara that has no the propensity of multipilicity. Poor ordinary….not ordinary really… learn how to be yourself first.

  • Ordinary4rueloflaw

    Sal needs a TiGrigna teacher in deed! 🙂 Boy – even us the Addis kids translate it better than our used-to-be favorite Asmara boy called Saleh AA Younis from way back the dehai days when he beautifully, articualtely used to jot it down his then famous -twegaHimo- article, that we still have a copy, that captivated many and earned him a lot of fans & followers.

    Only to disappoint us when he kept jumping from Dehai to Visafric to Asmarino and eventually and inevitably charmed by the man at or is it pal’ed with him. Not that we remained on deHai as we already had a tendency to believe what Dawit Mesfun was spilling the beans when not many dared to warn Eritreans what PFDJ was made of. The rest !? History as they say! .. hopefully we the Quartetamichewoch will write an article and challenge Saleh AA younis and question his individuality as he truly disappointed us.

    Mind you, we supported Saleh Gadi when he was accused of by the Asmara Rose that disgusted and angered us. However, the revealing thing about sal & saleh Gadi was that their Contradicticveness stand on things has gone on for years. Two incidents are suffice as exemplaries:

    When Saleh Gadi was accused of something uncharacteristic to our culture we stood by him YET (a) when Ali Salim came by and hacked off Highlanders (putting all in one basket) both Salehs not only allowed his nuts to be entertained on their website but also dare they, they actually kept writing by justifying and Rationalizing his fallacy and accusation of Higlanders. so it is OK for a lowlander to accuse a Highlander for them? (b) another contradictive of their stand that baffled us is when The Oakland, CA Eritreans (amiche brothers that we knew well by the way) that killed a family sent a gruesome “libel” accusation with the same ugly accusation that Asmara Rose accused saleh Gadi, and had it posted on their website.
    were we amused. Nope! were we surprised!? Nope! As we have now learned enough about eritrea & its people in particular the -Pace setters- The Asmara & the other town breeds. now back to SAAY & his TiGrigna..