Thursday , January 27 2022
Home / Articles / National Self Belief and Bologna 2013
Human rights lawyer vs. trained healer

National Self Belief and Bologna 2013

Opposition at a Cross Road: The Less Traveled Path of National Self Belief and the Bologna Summit 2013

If you study the stories of some of the most successful entrepreneurs on this globe you will find that the attribute that sets them apart from the rest of us is usually one central factor: Their mindset. It entails undeterred determination and above all, the belief that the path to success lies within oneself. Many of these successful entrepreneurs never enjoyed a good education, others had hit rock bottom in their lives, and a substantial number started their global businesses at a tiny bedroom desk. Unfavorable conditions overall.Yet despite these significant disadvantages they managed to develop a can-do attitude and a self belief in their own abilities that is above average. This turned them into high achievers against all odds.

The generation of the struggle for Eritrea’s independence will be able to relate to that. Self confidence and self belief were so widely and deeply entwined in us as a nation at the time that this psycho-political factor was decisive for winning a struggle in which the opponent had a clear upper hand economically, militarily and even politically.

The critical feature that is anchored in ‘self belief’ is an internalized faith in your own abilities to reach your higher goal regardless of external circumstances. Once this positive energy is set into motion, once it spreads through a person, a group, a mass of people …or through a nation…unbelievable inner strength and resources are unlocked turning hopeless and depressing situations into stories of triumph.

The Eritrean opposition is still searching for the key to unlock such greatly admired energy. So far, it was unable to win a really strong popular momentum for democratic change: the silent majority remains silent and the vast majority of people inside Eritrea have hardly any knowledge about the several opposition groups operating in exile. Yet this does not come to anyone’s surprise, we have never really put public opinion inside Eritrea into serious consideration when making political strategy. Have we agreed to start the process of regime change without them?

Across the board, and despite several very positive accomplishments, the opposition still lacks focus, efficiency, strategy, and vision;  to sum it up it lacks direction – national direction. How does the opposition engage the people and central military inside Eritrea into the process of regime change and how does it inform the nation about the strategies it deploys? How does the opposition provide tangible support to those who are ready to challenge PFDJ from within Eritrea? How does it communicate principles and policies that safeguard a better tomorrow for the nation? How do we prepare for the transitional period, is there a widely accepted plan and is the plan inclusive? What role can Eritrea’s ratified national constitution play in unifying the opposition behind the building process of democracy? What kind of Eritrea do the various opposition groups seek to build after PFDJ? To this day, Eritrean opposition groups did not tap into national self belief as a possible path or basis towards unity and highly anticipated success. Instead, questions around Awassa-participation and ‘where do you stand in regards to Ethiopia? seem to enjoy a much greater significance and popularity in Eritrea’s mainstream opposition policy and a lot of awareness and inter-group loyalties are drawn along those lines. Where is the vibrancy and hope in this for Eritrea? Where is the vision for a better Eritrea? And above all: what swallowed our national self belief that was so characteristic for Eritreans?

Compared to Mengistu Hailemariam, the current dictator Isaias Afwerki is a toothless monster. He manages a power base that is overall just politically well organized and even that within a very narrow horizon.  He has (up to this day) no significant financial capacities, no powerful army to watch his back, and a disastrous track record of providing even the basics to Eritrea’s citizens. So relatively speaking there is not much that strengthens the dictator’s statuesque, but the real problem is: there is not much that weakens it either.  The opposition’s internal flaws and its inability to get the dictator where it hurts prolong the tyrant’s rein, and the opposition’s incapability to share a national vision with the masses extends that even further. These weaknesses reinforce a sense of insecurity among the majority of Eritreans; the unknown puts many into a state of indifference and stagnation, and people inside Eritrea may face the added challenge to accept help coming from an opposition operating across the southern border, as both personal scars and PFDJ propaganda sit deep. In the meanwhile, Eritrea’s opposition groups continue to struggle for clear national direction. But is not that absolutely vital to lead a nation? In particular a nation that is in a vulnerable state ?

This article is not about Ethiopia’s involvement, because weighing advantages against concerns is a matter of view point. What needs to be questioned however is our attitude towards our very own abilities and capacities as Eritreans to win against PFDJ. What needs to be questioned is why we have not developed our own resources. What needs to be examined is why the many signs of pro-democratic endeavors inside Eritrea have never received consolidated opposition support, and why no serious political alternative was ever built that put its faith and focus on Eritreans inside Eritrea so those residing abroad can take the role of the political, financial and logistical engine to the struggle.

And active member wrote on EYSC Facebook last week: “..we are not defending Ethiopia. What we are tired of is this unsubstantial fear mongering and baseless Ethiopia phobic. The fact of the matter is that we have not been able to get rid of the tyrant for 20 yrs and counting. We are tired of singing the same all songs. As a result, we are exploring foreign help to supplement our meager capacity to solve our national plight. If you call this nauseating then, let it be.”

But is that not exactly the fact that worries and confuses so many ? The fact that we were exploring foreign help for all this time instead of exploring self-help to solve our national plight? And that until this day Eritrea’s opposition members overall persist  (although it is slowly shifting ) to continue this path with a perseverance that has made far too many even unreceptive, suspicious and hostile towards Eritrean groups, renowned individuals, and efforts  which focus on a fully autonomous national strategy. How is that to be understood?

The decision of Eritrean opposition groups to use Ethiopia as a platform is anybody’ s right, it may indeed have valid advantages, and who knows, maybe change will in fact come through those southern borders – no one has the final answer after all. What is however worrisome is that this very question of Ethiopian cooperation literally defines major parts of Eritrea’s struggle for democracy at the expense of building up our own self belief, our own capacities, our fully independent strategies within the opposition camp.

The Bologna Summit 2013

The ‘Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems’ mantra is widely misunderstood in our opposition community. It is no empty rhetoric nor does it imply that some are more Eritrean or nationalists than others.  As ‘African solutions for African problems’ or ‘Local solutions for local problems’ it is a self-empowering stand that simply strives for increased responsibility, national/local ownership, and leadership in dealing with Eritrea’s affairs without creating dependencies. It calls upon Eritreans to self confidently take full control of their situation and their destiny. Any request for foreign assistance should be submitted as equal partners and at our own terms.

We may never fully understand why it took so long to gather and organize around the belief that democratic change in Eritrea should and will come from inside.  This should be a clear focus and priority by which our struggle, but above all, our path to democracy are strictly guided. From August 30 to September 1, 2013 Eritreans from all walks of life will meet in Bologna to visibly and vividly add a new popular alternative to the struggle and Eritrea’s opposition: The path of national self belief. Yes, we have been hopeless after our liberators turned into our prison guards, yes, we have been psychologically affected by all that unfolded in front of our eyes, yes, we may have little confidence in our own abilities, our motivation, and resources, we may feel impatient, frustrated or depressed…but deep down, as people and a nation, collectively, we have what it takes, we have the will power , the faith,  the insight and understanding, the technical capacities, the connections, the finances, the human capital. We need to unlock these resources as a nation, we need to synchronize, strengthen, and draw strategies.  And at the center of all this vibrancy should be the visible support to those who fight for freedom and justice inside Eritrea regardless from where you chose to build those links. It is about time , that we believe and reaffirm that these comrades exist, that they are experienced, ready and capable, that thousands more will follow, and above all, that they know best to lead the way in toppling the brutal PFDJ regime once and for all, while they receive our full backing in a coordinated manner and with widespread support. Who knows how far the inspiring events of Forto would have been able to proceed, if we had gathered around the concept of national self belief years ago…

 Any doubts? Well, a democratic system is built on social, economic, and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination by a country’s citizens. And many Eritreans believe that the best way to integrate and uphold ‘political self-determination’ is by taking charge of our own affairs and work fully independently. But it also means that we embrace our differences in opinion by building strong and effective multiple entities across the political spectrum and around our different views – in forms of organizations, groups, institutions, and initiatives. The most efficient and popular parties (and hopefully the most democratic) will in the end be in a position to serve the people as government when the time is ripe. This needs to be an open and inclusive effort based on cooperation of groups across the opposition spectrum not on old-style unity.

Those who believe in change coming from inside Eritrea as an Eritrean solution towards regime change and democracy are indeed many – in the opposition, among civic organizations and activists, among renowned individuals, the Eritrean academia, the silent majority, and maybe most importantly among our suffering people inside Eritrea. It is absolutely vital and long overdue that these groups and masses build their own momentum, their space to work, their platform, their representation, their faith towards a better future. It is the hope that the ‘Bologna Summit 2013 for a Brighter Tomorrow’ gathering next week in the historic city center of Bologna will be a major milestone in achieving exactly that.

Bologna first started in the 70ies as a conference initiated by a small group of Eritreans before the PFDJ turned it later into a popular festival. Bologna is back and the organizers, the Eritrean Youth Solidarity of Change (EYSC) with the help and cooperation of many committed groups and activists, decided to follow into the founders’ footsteps by holding a conference. At this point it is crucial that participants not only meet, socialize and debate, but that we work towards concrete outputs that can be further developed post-conference. Milestones that will help us to a) advance Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems into a visible and effective political alternative for Eritrea, b) empower pro-democratic efforts inside Eritrea, and c) encourage the masses, in particular the youth and women, to actively participate in the process.

To create hope for Eritrea should never be regarded as exclusive, it should never be considered as unwelcome competition or even as a dubious undertaking by those who chose not to support the Bologna Summit because they believe in a different path. Democracy is all about making informed decisions and if we truly want to build democracy in Eritrea we should embrace the pluralism of groups, initiatives, ideas, and efforts it brings with it.

Lastly, Ethiopia’s representatives have confirmed on various occasions that they are here to support any endeavors that are lead by Eritreans themselves, and as such we should hope that they and all our comrades working inside Ethiopia will wish the gathering in Bologna and its democratic vision good luck. It would be a much welcomed progress. Hopefully one day very soon national self belief and self confidence will shine again and – through the combined  and collective efforts of everyone who works for freedom in Eritrea in their own ways – we will see a peaceful, democratic, proud, and prosperous Eritrea in which our people can heal, re-build, develop, blossom, and dream. An Eritrea for which our martyrs paid the ultimate price for, a small and much loved country that leads by positive example and that builds close and mutually beneficial relations with all its neighbors and the world community at large. See you there.

Dr. Harnet Bokrezion
(aka Miriam September)
EYSC/ Bologna Organization

About Miriam September

Check Also

Hafeez Saaddin Mohamed Badlay: a tribute

Grief struck the Eritrean community in Melbourne following the sudden death of Hafeez Saaddin Mohamed …

  • Michael

    Is not this the guy who refused to step down when the majority of his board demanded and he resorted to divide and conquer tactics just like the ….
    And he has the audocity to talk about diversity, respect and eritrean solution.
    What a hypocrat opportunist guy

  • Eng

    S the Tigringa saying goes “Emni Ente Gemtelkayo Emni”. Nothing much changes other than location, probably the key engineers would not be as apparant as they usually are from AA/Enteto. In terms of deliverables- failer before it started. Enjoy the Italian rivera, instead of the EThio-rivera.

  • Another mahber andnet festival just differenet name and location – Eritreans will never buy such crap….if you have the balls go to asmara and try it….

    • Yerhwo

      tni’ko seb’ay yetnseka – belet sebeyti! The arrogant woman was pregnant from the underestimated small (but clever) man.

      Wait and see, don’t underestimate the youth! You are papagalo, “ri’si hamham”

      Viva Eritrean Youth – Bologna 2013 !!!!!

  • haile


    To those attempting to do something, if we agree let’s help them. If we don’t, let’s stay out of their way. Bonn viaggio and a song

    good luck

    • Salyounis

      Ah, Haile, memories!

      Wedi Tukul. Somebody wrote once that when we are listing all the Early Warning sirens we had that we chose to ignore, we should include Wedi Tukul. He stood up. He was arrested. He was released. He stood down.

      But, oh, what a voice! Wedi Keshi, wedi abate, Wedi Tukul. The man does not need harmonizers or auto-tuners. His God-given vocal chords do all the magic. My fave still remains (despite the laughable leopard uniforms) this one.


      PS: Go Bologna! Every gathering of Eritreans to discuss justice is a good gathering.

      • Berhan Beyan

        but, what if the accomplishment is to hold another gathering? when people gather and discuss justice is good, my observation is the meeting is not to discuss justice but to discuss how to bring justice without the others. Because if others are involved or their concern is considered, it is not about justice. To make sure it is not about justices one has to exclude other point of views

        • Salyounis

          hala ya Berhan:

          It’s simple really:

          1. A gathering of Eritreans to discuss justice is either representative of Eritrean diversity*, or it’s not.
          2. If its not representative of Eritreans diversity, it’s either a deliberate effort to exclude OR a failure despite best efforts.
          3. If its not representative of Eritreans’ diversity, due to deliberate campaign of exclusion, it is, by definition a failure.
          4. If its not representative due to failure to appeal to the Eritrean diversity* one of two things will happen. The organizers will admit the failure and try again. Or the organizers will use all sorts of blankets, tricks, tokens, symbols to make it appear representative, but people are rational** and they will see through it.

          This is the case whether the tokenism campaign is sophisticated (think 40 years of EPLF/PFDJ chicanery) or whether it is crude (think 12 years of Eritrean opposition movements.)

          In other words, Berhan, this is not one of those things you have to wait months and years to find out. You will get the report card a month after it happens. And no “akeba bAwet tezazimu” sloganeering, no hype about speakers and speeches will camouflage that. But,but, but, lets not automatically treat perfection as the enemy of good. After all, Eritrea is not Ethiopia: a nation made up of 3,000 year old and 100 year old spare parts. We were all put together on the same day and, politically, our collective history and experience is similar. We don’t have the burden of having to celebrate the achievements of our conquerers (I am looking straight at you Gwad Eyob Medhane 🙂 Really, had it not been for the criminal incompetence of the PFDJ, Eritrean diversity is not a very difficult thing to manage. Sebrek Berhan habibi***


          *by diversity, I don’t mean just diversity based on inherited identity (religion, region, ethnicity), although those are powerful and important ones. I mean also diversity based on chosen identity ( political belief.)

          ** rational, the opposite of sentimental. This is also why the dog-whistle of “Habesha” is doomed to fail. But they do keep on whistling 🙂

          *** three Arabic words inserted to show the illogic of Eyobs thinking. I used about 100 words in English; that won’t make him recoil despite the fact that virtually NO Eritrean spoke English 100 years ago and half of Eritrea understood conversational Arabic 100 years ago. Funny guys, landlocked people are frightened of the world and embrace isolationism.

      • haile

        Selamat saay,

        Nice song! In fact, I chose that song back in march, when addressing awatistas in connection to Nadew Day 2013 🙂

        I thought, however, Tuta would be appropriate for this dlo dlo occasion 🙂

  • Berhan Beyan

    what is missing in Eritrea is not a repetition of the old divisive idea such as EYSC plan to hold a summit in Bologna. If you really care or plan to get the support of Eritrean, you should have worked hard to understand not those who support you but those who do not. The definition of sanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different result. a key speaker Tekeste good luck

  • Dr. Harnet
    What you says in your article raised one’s since of relief that for all Eritrean or very significant constituent grouping in a future to establish, a truly pluralistic representative democracy in Eritrea, your article about National Self Belief will resonate with Eritreans. I am sure you will have huge followings in bologna conferences and you are showing a great sign of political maturity and very deep understanding of the requisite statesmanship role , National Self Belief and Eritrean-self help comes first and fro most and with help the international community’s strong stand and advocacy to help the Eritrean to establish the strong foundation of a functioning democracy for Eritrea of tomorrow , as stated by your article one of our own very savvy intellectual ,you could add to your article that Eritrean Diaspora are confident that peaceful protests, civil disobedience, a la Gandhi, is the sure assurance to recapture the spirit of Bologna first that started in the 70ies and today conferences in Bologna ,Eritrean are on the March to Democracy.
    I found the quality and relevance of the article, a reflection of a well-trained political mind and thoughtful articulation. Is a definite sign of the quality of an intellectual person that Eritrean oppositions should take a note about National Self Belief and in a promising all-inclusive and pluralistic future democracy we are hoping for and churning out?

  • seliho

    dear brothers and sisters

    yes, indeed lets own our own national programmes for the change that we are imagining. but as to me it is not fair and not pragmatic to exclude the healthy support of neighbors. do not we care about the loose that is going on in this very minute? do not we know this day many of our brothers are dying and fleeing ? lets stop the situation at any coast

  • Crocus

    Knee jerk reaction to any mention of Ethiopia! You will be holding in the harbor for a long, long time. Better come to grips with reality. Swallow your pride if you want to move forward. False pride and bravado will not cut the mustard…

  • yegermal

    Synchronized dancing? Wedaje!

  • L.T

    Correction to you Ms Miriam Sep;
    When Jebha held Adobha conference in Sahel in Aug 1969 and than to spilt from Jebha was fact and by this way a few students fm West Germany and Polen attended by 46-60 in Bayer Deutschland 1970 and three of them were now a minster Weldemicheal Abraha(Herr Schmidt)Dr Jaber and Petros Yohannes.
    1971 meeting was in Austria Viana to reform activity in inside the ELF.1974-1984 was only conference and than upto 1991 were Bolonga also for festivals.Now in Dekemhare.
    You wrote”Isaias is a toothless”Mihro Weyane.
    Ms Sep back to life,more troubling,more menacing-than ever before.The tragic case of you did not mark the end,nor even the beginning of the end.This newscomer young politices had been misled by their diseased imagings/Mamma n Eritrea kiyde tesewiea kimetsie ‘yeeee)this is nothing but “brainsick”old crones.These poor souls young should be put in the care of good Doctor.
    “Isais is a toohless”Peter was sitting on a marble stone and Jesus passed by.Peter said”My Lord,how my toothdoth ache!Jesus said”Peter art whole,and who ever keeps these words for my sake shall never have the tooh-ache.
    Isaias is a toothless.

  • George

    Absolutely fantastic Miriam. Indeed the much need self-confidence shall shine again.

  • L.T

    Ye Germena alo….where is the freday night club to friend& bottel party like that we used to go every sturday evenig in Asmera La-Getto,Blue Nile,Dere Selam,M-Compo..and danced there with our girl freinds in 80s.
    Miraim Sep…..Give us a break this can go no where?

  • Miriam

    *sorry I would like to add a small correction to my article, please:
    Bologna first started in the 70ies as a conference initiated by a small group of Eritreans before the EPLF turned it later… (not PFDJ of course)

    • Berhan Beyan

      Hello Miriam,
      The ‘Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems’ mantra is widely misunderstood in our opposition community. It is no empty rhetoric nor does it imply that some are more Eritrean or nationalists than others. As ‘African solutions for African problems’ or ‘Local solutions for local problems’ it is a self-empowering stand that simply strives for increased responsibility, national/local ownership, and leadership in dealing with Eritrea’s affairs without creating dependencies. It calls upon Eritreans to self confidently take full control of their situation and their destiny. Any request for foreign assistance should be submitted as equal partners and at our own terms.

      If you truly believe that Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems widely misunderstood. why don’t make more efforts to change that. I think you, by you I mean EYSC deliberately or not trying to misinterpreted what people are saying. what people are saying you choose that phrase to show that you are not like the other Eritreans according to you, who are asking outside force to solve Eritrean problems. In one of the excellent lecture of yours at EYSC event, I heard you saying that there is a luck of trust among oppositions. I agree. Now days at least in the oppositions, people don’t pay attention what it is being said but who is saying and what. people around you are accusing other Eritreans of seeking outsiders solution for Eritrean problems. some of them are actively in an official or non-official positions supporting you, and to get support from others, they are accusing Eritreans of lucking Self Belief. Is inviting a well known Eritrean such as Abdurahman, Dr Asefaw a coincidence? I thought your aim is to involve a silent Eritreans. what point are you going to make by inviting a well known Eritreans who accuse Eritreans who just try to find Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems of seeking outside solutions for Eritrean problems.
      words means nothing unless they are interpreted within the context.

      In a situation when there is a mistrust, language matters. It is not that how you see it, it is how others will interpret it more important, if the objective is to win more people.
      Having different point of view is a corner stone in democracy. Democracy has to deliver too. what do you lose if you remove unclear language that only you could understand?

      Any ways I wish you all the beast

    • yemane

      I am surprised to see a lady having a thick-skin. How dare you still standing while you are the sole-responsible person for dismantling EYSC,the once promising group? How do you expect us to TRUST you after you deliberately attacked a specific Region( to be exact THE_AKELEGUZAY) and you stepped with the other regions? what makes you different from DIA? what did you get by dividing people who died together for the Country that you know after independence only? who are you to attack a specific society? you think people will let you live freely while they have been belittled by you? I am not talking about a single person but of a group of people and communities who are watching you closely….Remember, those whom you attacked are those who made Eritrea, Eritrea….

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    How is the majority People in Eritrea experiencing, understanding the pfdj regime?

    Who is the majority in Eritrea? Are tigrinya and the rest of the peopls oppressed indiscriminatly?

    Does the majority sees a difference in change in the system between derg and pfdj? From out side we could say what ever we want but from inside the fact remains that there was a dictator regime led by mengistu and now there is a pfdj led by isaias. May be the majortiy understand, takging the facts on the ground and the capacity of the country, that what they are experiencing is a consquence of the path chosen. The country which has one of the most important geopoletical importance With only 5 million People and not only deny a 90 million People partly related With different eritrean ethnic Groups but also wants to bully it needs the kind of People what we have in Eritrea now. You can not bully the negibouring countries by only Meeting in different wester country. It doesnt matter how small pop Eritrea has, the country needs a large and strong army be it on land, air and on the water. And that strength is going to be collected from the People. And that strength had not been entrtained by all the negihbouring countris includding yemen.

    The disaspora parties never represent the majority of eritreans at home. Leave alnoe eritreans at home they dont even represent the majority of diaspora. Who is participating the Meeting in Bologna? The same elite who can afford? What is the role of eritreans in Ethiopia both eri-refugees and ethiopian eritreans? Where is the loyality of eri-diaspora (ethioeritreans, the defintion is vague as definigion of elite eritreans definion of ethio-colonization of Eritrea)? Are the diaspora from sudan represented in blogna?

  • abe the MINEWALE

    The ward Ethiopia ruins the show so far

  • TheTruth

    As long as the opposition continues to take orders from Ethiopia, no one will take them seriously. You can’t be lackeys of people who continue to stifle Eritrea’s peace and expect us to respect you.

  • Semere T Habtemariam

    “The ‘Eritrean solutions for Eritrean problems’ mantra is widely misunderstood in our opposition community. It is no empty rhetoric nor does it imply that some are more Eritrean or nationalists than others. As ‘African solutions for African problems’ or ‘Local solutions for local problems’ it is a self-empowering stand that simply strives for increased responsibility, national/local ownership, and leadership in dealing with Eritrea’s affairs without creating dependencies. It calls upon Eritreans to self confidently take full control of their situation and their destiny.”

    Well put, sister. All the best for the Bolonga 2013 Summit.

    Semere T Habtemariam

    • L.T

      Struggle cost life whatever his/her age.We are familiar enough with the practice of the study of national literatures to cover the territorial and constitutional such as common heritage.
      “I am your friend and I can talk to you as I like but that does not mean I forget that one half of you is man and the other half of sprit(133)Old testament.
      “True god and true man.
      beside I am from Hiberti

    • That’s naturally true. And we know that Nature never lies…always true! Good Semere.

  • hizbawi

    “Lastly, Ethiopia’s representatives have confirmed on various occasions that they are here to support any endeavours”

    Sorry for wasting my time. nothing is good as long as Ethiopia- Tigray are in it. straight up.

    • L.T

      Snapp shots Hazbawi.This is a filter and effecter.
      Say to them”No parking anytime”