Monday , November 29 2021
Home / Articles / “Pre-figurative Politics” Of The Eritrean Lowland League

“Pre-figurative Politics” Of The Eritrean Lowland League

The birth of Eritrean Lowland League (ELL) has its sociopolitical and historical trajectories that necessitated it. Seeing ELL outside that scope is tantamount to chasing wild goose. The preoccupation with the name is an obvious hurdle given the nature of Eritrean politics. Eritrean body politic seems to gravitate toward this tainted world of perfunctory, trivially benign, and all at the expense of vehement neglect to principles; instead the focus tends to be more on pejoratively superficial world of hollowly induced intuitions that are full of semantics, signifiers, and mischaracterizations of personalities, which are intended to trigger visceral reactions and nothing more. We seem to focus on the most trivial and the most mundane aspects of the body-politic.

Consider the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for example. The birth of SCLC can be pinpointed to this: “The very beginnings of the SCLC can be traced back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began on December 5, 1955 after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. The boycott lasted for 381 days and ended on December 21, 1956, with the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system.” It is worth adding that “Martin Luther King, Jr. served as President and Ralph David Abernathy served as Program Director. It was one of history’s most dramatic and massive nonviolent protests, stunning the nation and the world.”

Now, people might have dwelled over SCLC’s exclusionary name, perhaps silently, perhaps whisperingly, but it would’ve amounted to no more than comparing the latter to the former, signifying nothing, as it were, an exercise in futility; SCLC had big plans to change the nation subsequently humanity for the better and, by golly, it did.

The take away point here is that the name did not deter the people from all walks of life to join it because the message that it conveyed and the principles for which SCLC stood for was beyond the nomenclature or the acronym by which it is now endearingly and enduringly known for.

Imagine if these heroic individuals were worried about attracting the extreme and radical elements to their midst who would’ve chosen to fight back, as it were, an eye for an eye; or that SCLC was going to worry about a backlash that it would trigger from the Jim Crow and the KKK crowd, both of which would’ve had a derailing effect to the cause that was being advanced. Or more benignly those who were going to make the wrong turn here and the U-Turn there; in a scheme of things, these are an inevitable happenstances that any movement would have to handle accordingly.

The point here is that social and political movements have their trajectories. “Prefigurative politics,” that has its roots in social movements can help contextualize it for us Eritreans. Linda Gordon, historian of social movements not only ties the seemingly disparate movements that burgeoned in the late ‘50s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s, but also captures the spirit and the essence of those movements. For example, Gordon stipulates, demands, really, to compulsorily see “the American New Left as an umbrella movement, a “cluster concept,’ that began in the 1950s with civil rights, traveled through the white student movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women’s-liberation movement, and… taking in also the environmentalism that continued throughout” (p. 103). Seen in this light, the scheme and the historical spectrum offer a coherent narrative into the nature of any movement in that some evolve or devolve while others splinter; some dissipate while others thrive. The larger point of Gordon to consider is this poignant thought:

“These movements shared an anti-authoritarian impulse, a recognition of the need for new analyses of injustice and exploitation, a strategic orientation toward defiance, a tactical reliance on direct action and civil disobedience, a rejection of conformist culture and a creativity in pioneering new cultural and communitarian forms. Recognizing this “long New Left” is vital for examining the flow of participatory democracy ideas and prefigurative politics. (pp. 103-104).

The all too common notion whether one chooses to “fight the system” that he/she sees as a hindrance to a healthy society; or does one become “the change” he/she “wishes to see”? ELL is appropriating the latter & the former at once. The participants in ELL seem to be saying we’ve lived through marginalization; we have seen the anachronistic Eritrean political culture and the reality as they conceive of it is that Eritreans are divided along religious, regional, tribal, ethnic lines. Instead of staying suspended indefinitely between the anvil and the nail and wait for the merciless and hapless Eritrean political hammer to nail them as though they were the coffin, they are refusing to be hammered. ELL(ites) have seen how their people were neglected prior and post-Eritrean revolution. The wrath of Ethiopia’s Scorched Earth Policy, for the most part, was directed at the Lowlanders, who were massacred and pushed out of their homeland in droves to only become refugees in Sudan for the last forty years. As though that was not enough and the reprieve that should’ve come after Eritrea’s independence, the Tigrinya hegemony never paved the way nor did it make any visible effort, say, via UN to allow them to return to their homeland. Therefore, would anyone lay blame on ELL given this grim history of successive wretched life they had to face and endure? I wouldn’t. In fact, I should embrace the fact that they are finally asserting themselves to demand what’s rightly theirs instead of expecting it to be handed to them in a “silver platter.”

They are accepting the reality as they see it and are thus coming out to say ‘nobody else knows more than we the people who have been on the margins of politics of Eritrea for almost forty years and nothing good had come of it, therefore, we the people are starting our own bottom-up sociopolitical movement to usher a new era and we will be part and parcel of the national conversation and ain’t nobody going to stop us now’ seems to be the unequivocal message. The fact is ELL’s official status is that it is an advocacy group and has yet to use Tigre language as its official mode of communication, yet the assumption is running wild as my friend Sal is fantastically worried about regional phraseologies. Before ELL could even join the political sphere I am hastily assuming it inevitably will, because there is a void that I can foresee it playing crucial role in the national policy and political conversation. With ELL’s emergence as important regional and national force, using the outdated pre-independence political discourse analysis will not do, because that is three score years and ten too late, if you will.

The emergence of ELL some might choose to see as this bitter sociopolitical pill; indeed, they may have a point, but absence of any legitimate sociopolitical space that represents Eritrean Muslims in Diaspora, ELL qua ELL is filling an ostensibly important void; a void much as SCLC not only initiated but filled when there was not an entity in existence to do the awfully demanding and the ultimate sacrifices that some of its members paid for. The corollary to such ultimate price, of course, has been to pave the way for those of us who have come from far and near to enjoy our civil rights in the U.S. of A.

Similarly, ELL can organically and ably play such an important role in helping bridge that gap and the least those of us outside its scope and outside its peripheral vision can and should do is embrace it, more importantly, support it.

For some of us, it’s been twenty-some-odd years critiquing, analyzing, and synthesizing the Eritrean Diaspora political landscape, yet not a single organization we have come out in support of, or worked along to help it become a viable opposition. Unlike some of the critiques, I see ELL in such light as that one entity that will and can play constructive role of an umbrella to other Eritrean Muslim social, political, and ethnic community groups, thereby coming to the national scene as they all come in a voice of unison to have discourse about ridding Eritreans from current dire predicament and contribute their share of mission and vision for the future of Eritrea as they conceive of it with the other half of their countrymen and countrywomen.

The idea of a group being from one country or certain region may give erroneous impressions that somehow they speak one language; that they have the same culture; that they believe in monotheist God. The fact is to the contrary. These activists are as diverse as they come: they speak multiple languages; they have different cultural traditions and backgrounds; though, based on the name of the organization one may hastily and erroneously extrapolate some incipient notion that are contrary to the facts on the ground; truth be told, I have spoken to several members and their national aspirations and their vision for Eritrea speaks volumes as they see the way of the future of Eritrea through secular prism.

The mosaic nature of this group of activists may not readily be visible to an outsider, but for someone who has had long conversation with some of its members the world over, as it were, seeing the group’s dynamism not from emic (insider’s viewpoint) but from etic (an outsider’s) perspective. Indeed, it is one of the very reasons why I wholeheartedly see the constructive role that ELL can play; they believe in coexistence amongst and between and within group; they believe in bringing the needed sociopolitical change in the mainland (Eritrea) by applying pressure to the dictatorial government that has been wreaking havoc in the nation for the last 23 years; the corrupt system of governance of the last 23 has been doing nothing more than injecting disharmony, using systematic insider/outsider dichotomies, or, if you will, using the classic “divide & conquer” dark legacies of colonialism that the Italians, the British, and Ethiopia used when they ruled Eritrea, respectively.

About Beyan Negash

Activist, a writer and a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Language, Literacy, and Culture at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Beyan holds a bachelor of arts in English and a master of arts in TESOL from NMSU as well as a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from UCLA. His research interests are on colonial discourse and post-colonial theories and their hegemonic impact on patriarchy, cultural identity, literacy development, language acquisition as well as curriculum & citizenship. The geopolitics of the Horn of Africa interests Beyan greatly. His writings tend to focus on Eritrea and Ethiopia. Beyan has been writing opinion pieces at since its inception (1 September 2001).

Check Also

Of Guerilla Diplomacy and Granary Courtship

Of Guerrilla Diplomacy and Granary Courtship (ኩሽማን ደርሆ ኣብ ኣፍ ቆፎ) on Eritrean American mask-less …

  • ibrahim

    “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re
    picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”, Lyndon B. Johnson, in the 60’s

    Yes, not the right person to quote, just popped up on reading here a guest’s comment, astounded by SAL’s look down down on ELL leadership. Regrettably, I have been away from, for some time, for it was earlier my on/off attraction for good reads.To that unbecoming incident I may say, we are all in the margins boat and pot (كلنا فى التهميش سواء)

    Regardless of creed urban like or remote inaccessible rural origins, ‘Matahit’ for many of its non-members is at least subconciously a synonym for a restless nomad, except for making coffee under a shade!!. Our sociopolitical environment, besides the ill advised politick of the day, may have their toll..Even the romantic leftists 40 years back claimed a nomad is born to be led, way better than to be discounted or dispensed out with…Past two generations one may condemn such naivety as water under the bridge, notwithstanding noxious hangovers..

    Well, Mr. Bayan Nagash, “لا فض فوك”, gist: may your pen never drain. I am impressed, not because you have reinvented the wheel, but for delivering such scarce commodity astutely ,out of the box description, under the reign of scholar like prescriptions and ‘high ground!’ lectures.
    What we need is wisdom as a catalyst to bridge the gaps..What we need is our cultural (unadulterated) heritage of understanding and respect as a token of good faith; for, whether we like it or not, we can only clap with both hands..We
    have enough exclusions..It (exclusion) has to start somewhere, as it did with Munkhafadat, but once on the move has no bounds, it gets inflated by the day..In fact as articulated by Professor Tesfatzion Medhane, it is Demhit (Tigayan force) that is gradually replacing the yester armed/security forces, no liberal reasoning on the horizon to forfeit his opinion. As the outspoken engage-rs left it slip their radar to-date..

    I agree the cause of ELL is well founded,and may add it was long overdue..Allow me to touch on silver platter
    expectation, The way I see it the problem with Munkhafadat is tolerance towards follow signified by Eritrean politics right for WaAla bet georgis..The other misunderstood trait is their view of Eritrea as an egg that
    need careful handling (compromises) till such trait marginalized them beyond wild imaginations…..Still they didn’t give-up struggle within the opposition, which I personally see is yet to handle core requisite for change..recognition of their being and dreams of being free of oppression and exclusion.

    Apparently, you have given the subject due diligence, but could prop on …”ELL’s …. has yet to
    use Tigre language as its official mode of communication’, as the wathiqa calls for ” 5 – Language: All languages ​​
    shall be considered equal by law with the adoption of Arabic as an official national language in the lowlands and nationwide.”

    Although one might understandably expect ELL, post its forthcoming congress, to evolve into a political entity,
    its’ initiators though, unless overwhelmed, still stick to garnering, rallying and advocacy for what they declared in the initiative..Yet the political circumstances on ground may (or should) necessitate such political entity
    whether it’s ELL or any other group or groups that embrace the same cause.

    • Bayan Nagash

      “I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I wasn’t poor, I was needy. Then they told me it
      was self-defeating to think of myself as needy, I was culturally deprived. Then
      they told me deprived was a bad image, that I was underprivileged. Then they
      told me underprivileged was overused, that I was disadvantaged. I still don’t
      have a dime, but I do have a great vocabulary.”
      ―Jules Feiffer

      Source/Notes: Cartoon caption, quoted in Leonard L. Levinson, Bartlett’s Unfamiliar
      Quotations (1971). Originally appeared in 1965.
      “…the legacy of these beliefs [slavery, Jim Crow, endless
      prejudices of the U.S by the mainstream culture] remains with us today, often wearing
      the cloak of scientific legitimacy. Africans were said by some historians to have
      had no history, by linguists to have had inferior language, by political
      scientists to have had poor self-government, by psychologists to have had low
      intelligence, by biologists to have had inferior genes, and by theologians to
      have had no soul – among other things” (Guthrie 1976; Hegel 1831; Turner 1969)

      In the era of the Internet, in the age of sound bites, and in
      the world of texts that collapse the meaning of words into a single letter or
      two; where the bombardment of information ceaselessly flows, the ability to analyze, synthesize, and correctly processing information becomes ever more crucially important.

      The above two paragraphs were triggered by your sharp pens. A little over 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation in the U.S., how true that old habits die hard and racial problems abound. African Americans keep on staring the evil in the face and stomp their feet
      firm on the ground to tell American mainstream culture that they are not going away
      and that they will not blink and that they will keep on fighting to doom’s day.

      Granted, ours is remotely comparable to that, but the point is that the inability to question our assumptions run amok in the Eritrean body-politicking and it is when we begin to step back and objectively examine matters where and when we can begin to see the picture getting less blurry. Therefore, now, every Eritrean has his/her chance to do things right, but it will take conscious effort on all of Eritrea’s sons and daughters to begin questioning every assumption that had left us culpable and wounded to the core as our sense of disarray in the last three decades give a good indication of that.

      So, gentlemen, every misfortune can turn into opportunity or a fortune. I firmly believe that now is the time for all Eritreans from all walks of life to gather together with a sense of purpose, in which they can dream together of Eritrea of the future, where all its inhabitants can have a nation that thrives not only in the domestic stage but the world stage.

      Indeed, the bursting to the scene by ELL at this pivotal moment of Eritrea’s turbulent history, it [ELL] will be remembered as the turning point that shifted the sociopolitical paradigm from beneath our feet – for something far more constructive than we all thought possible. I have no inkling doubt that when our lowland and highland brothers and sisters are esteemed we will all be in esteemed place for the future of Eritrea. The future of Eritrea will flourish when the equilibrium of these two peoples are in the balance, a tilt of one will mean disequilibrium of the other, hence a disintegration of the whole.

      In that spirit I concur with Guest’s notion that Sal’s slip of a tongue should be treated as such – wal musaamih kareem.

      As for Guest’s suggestion I am humbled by your kindness. As if Abu Myar’s lavishing remarks
      and that of Ibrahim’s firebrand note that left me mesmerized, were not enough, you are putting me way high on the pedestal that I feel undeserving – I am getting inebriated with your kindness gentlemen. Guest, if ELL thinks it worth their trouble to distribute my article in any shape or form in the up-coming gala, all I can say is the honor will be all mine.


  • AbuMyar

    Dear respected ustaz Beyan,

    I don’t know where to begin….your last written master piece stands tall for many reasons.
    One, it represents the spirit of a true nationalist who is not subjugated to
    wear artificial lenses from the past and forced upon many eyes to see through.
    The concept that our Eritrean diversity is celebrated and respected in limited
    scopes i.e. expression of culinary art, dress and languages is outdated as you
    later explained. You stand tall because you say, not only do I welcome the
    lowlanders’ definition of self but I support it; because it is their basic
    right that doesn’t exclude others’. You stand tall because you welcome
    diversity of opinion and vision.
    As a highlander you captured and advocated their voice ‘Ellites’ better than any capable
    lowlander I know. That is a tall order of business in my book.

    You stood tall before, when you defended the
    so called “Crusaders”. Many at the time were quick to say that a Muslim had
    been manipulated by the Christians in “EFND” and cosigned on a blank piece of
    paper to lend a Muslim name and face to a new group that advocates Tigrinia
    hegemony. Your pen was tirelessly defending a group you said you were newly
    affiliated with. Your principles grounded in Eritreanism are certainly not new.
    Your response to Sister Sara in the commentary section should be taught in
    schools, for open minds to ponder and nourish on. We can begin with Diaspora
    community schools till our home permits the right to express and define oneself.
    Ask my Jeberti brothers among others, and they will undoubtedly tell you what
    that means.

    Please keep on blessing with your ‘out of the box’ brand of thoughts…

    Yours truly


    • guest

      Sallamkumallah AbuMyar and ibrahim.
      1…….Brother saay7 has demonstrated in action that he is so chivarlous and gallant when he chose to openly apologize in this open forum with NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS; when many others would have resisted to do so for empty pride and ego. That by itself is to be commended , nice of him; i think we should leave the incident behind us and moving on forward will be more helpful. He might have already started talking to the leadership of ELL in private room to mend the rift, if there is any. Saay7, you’re my man!
      2…….. Indeed, brother beyan, who is a kebesite by birth, from what i understand, has presented the ELL and the beautiful lowlanders in in a marvelous ornament with his high eloquence and captivating prose. An excellent example of how a degait kebesawian with qollait metahitian, both marginalized and crushed by the current
      regime and his cliques, can rise up hand in
      hand to abolish the dictatorship and bring
      REAL CHANGE for the benefit of ALL
      Eritrean as one Union; respecting and
      celebrating each others differences in all
      aspects of life. For that, i suggest, with the
      permission of br. Beyan, to the
      administration of ELL to re-write this
      masterpiece: ” Pre-figurative Politics ” of the

      Eritrean Lowland league, and the subsequent comments he wrote on the subject, in a booklet form and distribute it to the visitors of the forthcoming festival in London on the weekend April 4-5, 2015 or display the article beside the works of the novelist and writer br. Hajji Jaber and plastic art painter/ sculpiturist br.Mahmoud Debroum’s gallery at the festival exhibition.

      • saay7

        Haha Guest sm alebu:

        Thanks or the vote of confidence…

        I am actually going to leave ELL alone. For now. Like I said, I am very skeptical for historical reasons (lowland and lowlanders helped define Eritrea for good and bad, but they don’t want to hear about the very bad parts from 1941 to present), but my sense is that they are very thin-skinned and they just want confidence-building “Halib ste! Takbir!” comments now. If and when they move from civil society to a political organization, then I will engage. But for now, I will leave the stage for the “Halib ste!” echo chamber:)


        • Bayan Nagash

          Ahlan Sal,

          What you’re refusing to see or the fine distinction that you seem to ignore that merits a mention is…well, you know what, let me draw an analogy
          from your past history, since you’re alleging that “they [meaning ELLites] don’t
          want to hear about the very parts from 1941 to present [and that] they are very
          thin-skinned and they just want confidence-building “Halib ste! Takbir!”.

          Sal, remember during the heyday of the now infamous war of 1998 to 2000 when you chose to cloak yourself in the patriotic garb and your response to those who were critical of how the war was being mismanaged nine-months into it…if my memory serves me right, in one of your twgaHmo manifestos you would say “my country, right or wrong” and were dismissive of anyone who showed an inkling doubt about the Isayas regime.

          Some of us are now choosing to turn that slogan on its head by saying “opposition ajokhum, ELL ajokhum allena msakhum”

          Look Sal, you do not anticipate a child to run when it can barely
          walk…you give the child the needed scaffolding, and not push it to run when it
          is barely walking; not ask it to jump when it can barely manage skipping; not
          ask it to go for the kill when shooing can accomplish the needed task. This is
          precisely where ELL is now, it needs your confidence building measures, not one that demoralizes it, especially at this nascent junction, that’s all.

          The way you are deciding to leave ELL alone does not build any
          confidence; though skepticism is healthy, sometimes, one must also use
          confidence building measures such as saying, “Halib ste! Takbir!” ajjokhum ezom aHwatna tseba steyulna…ELL, we hear you loud and clear, keep on keeping on. As Ibrahim powerfully and succinctly put it:

          “Regardless of creed urban like or remote inaccessible rural origins, ‘Matahit’ for many of its non-members is at least subconsciously a synonym for a restless nomad, except for making coffee under a shade!!. Our sociopolitical environment, besides the ill advised politick of the day, may have their toll..Even the romantic leftists 40 years back claimed a nomad is born to be led, way better than to be discounted or dispensed out with…Past two generations one may condemn such naivety as water under the bridge, notwithstanding noxious hangovers..”

          This is the kind of attitude ELL is surfacing to challenge. It is with keen understanding of such deeply embedded postures that remain in us,
          whether we are conscious of it or not, that opposition groups like ELL we should be supportive of. If they seem to be “very thin-skinned” as you allege, you need to come from a place of concern to give them the confidence building
          measures, if that’s what’s required. After all, you’ve been on the other side
          of it yourself when your twgaHmmo manifesto was gracing Asmarino website in
          which you refused to throw a fraction of what you are willing to give ELL here.

          I hope that you can see where ELLites are coming from, Saleh. If anyone is to
          be more understanding, it is you…saddened to see you standing in the way rather than along with the much robustness that ELL can potentially inject in the opposition landscape.


          • saay7

            Selamat Bayan:

            I don’t understand how my decision to stand down is being equated with standing in the way. So anything but cheerleading is standing in the way? Standing down simply means I won’t have anything to say on the subject indefinitely. It’s my peace hookah.

            Twgahmo series at asmarino… I know that was eons ago and my memory may have failed me but I recall it having an extensive comments section and I (a) occasionally addressed my critics and when I didnt (b) I didn’t harangue them and demand that they support me 🙂

            So Bayan, old friend, mengedun Cherq:)


          • Bayan Nagash

            Hala Sal,

            As a person who had been in the thick and the thin of Eritrean cyber political
            space for at least a couple of dozen years, by my count, your “stand[ing] down” is easily “equated with standing in the way” because of your last note in question in which you had to make unequivocal qualified statement, which appears more of one-upmanship.

            What do you call it, Sal, when part of silencing your pen vis-a-vis ELL is that they are “thin-skinned [and are in need of someone] who can tell them “Halib ste! Takbir!”, and not one who will critique them. You didn’t even stop there my friend, ya-abu-Saleh, you went for the jugular:

            “…I am very skeptical for historical reasons (lowland and lowlanders helped define Eritrea for good and bad, but they don’t want to hear about the very bad parts from 1941 to present)”.

            The above puts a boatload historical weight on ELL’s lap, a lap that is barely starting an advocacy group. I wonder if you had done the same toward other organizations at their inception, say, CiDRI, EGS, and heck, even EFND, the latter of which I am a member and haven’t heard a hissing sound from you let alone a historical weight they should measure against? Of course, it is entirely possible you might have done something similar to that, but somehow my intuitions suggest otherwise. Why such a high pedestal and high skepticism toward ELL, my friend. Had you simply left it at tsaEda yitsnaHkum, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?

            Inshallah, mengedu Cherq yadrglln lhullachnm, my friend

            your friend,

          • saay7

            Selamat Bayan my friend:

            Ok: gebey tSa3da. TSaEda yitsnaHkum. Mengedu Cherq yadrglln. Happy trails. May the road rise with you. Aloha. Via con dios:)


          • Bayan Nagash

            As Egyptians would say, ‘from your mouth to the gates of heaven’, buddy. This in my book is a happy ending…until the next time when we will see ELL rising to the occasion…sooner than later…so long!

        • guest

          Lol saay7. I picked a screen name of ” guestallah ” علي وزن ” ضيف الله ” … Didnt get any approval from you or others who asked me to change my nick, like Hope…. So im stuck with “guest” for now.

          • saay7


            The problem with Guest is that you are not the only Guest. The problem with Guestallah is that somebody somewhere will be offended, specially when people start calling u by your last name. You really mean those are ur only 2 choices?


  • Bayan Nagash

    Dear Sal,

    I have read and re-read both yours and that of Aklilu’s. From the latter the insight I gained, if I may truncate it for the purposes of the subject at hand to its bare essence is that the man at the helm
    in Eritrea [Nsu] cannot, should not, and ought not be underestimated, emphasis on the last word; that political power can serve as a weapon of annihilation as in how Nsu has been using it interminably since the gedli years and does so now, still wielding it vehemently, adamantly, and relentlessly.
    Of course, Nsu could’ve used power constructively, say, as the late President Mandela did, but that’s neither here nor there as it is way too late for that.

    Aklilu’s narrative is very stirring, so stirring, in fact, I couldn’t help but feel that sometimes the monster we concoct in our head is our worst enemy than the real monster at home who has been deliberately using the awesome option of power to a gruesome end; Nsu’s evil-genius work of tyranny has been ingrained in our psyche for far too long. We can no more allow one individual to wreak havoc to our sense of being. If I may digress a little speak to the notions of control and power in its generic terms.

    Mankind has been at the forefront in trying not only to control nature but also its inhabitants. The horrific way in which Native Indians were made to reach at the verge of extinction was only the beginning. We all know that Native Americans, more or less, have become ostensibly, living ‘museums’ that one knows their existence in the Reservations sparsely scattered throughout the U.S. away from view – but one does not necessarily need encounter. Slavery was yet another horrific way in which Africans were subjugated and forcefully abnegated to a point of being denied from speaking their mother tongues; though many may wish to see it from economic standpoint I shudder at the thought that that was the sole reason. Slavery was, in fact, only one facet of that insatiable human urge to dominate and control anything, everything, and everyone. That need to control never ceased. [Nsu’s kind of power]

    We humans now control every inch of a forest in existence by aligning it in grid forms because it makes accessing it very easy; we have uniform and standard way of measuring, gauging, weighing, everything on this earth. We devised, as a mechanism of control, among other things, surnames were created for that purpose; we devised neatly manicured streets, cities, towns, in grids – square forms – which make for an easy way of controlling crowds; the challenge might be to control shanty towns, favelas, and slums of the world with maze like alleyways, pathways, and byways that could barely fit pedestrians let alone swat teams with their armors (The idea for this piece, in part, came to me when reading Thinking Like A State, James Scott – a must read for those who are interested on the notions of power and control as sanctioned by nation-states).

    Sal, your skepticism about ELL is well taken. In fact, that’s healthy, that’s why I am refreshingly excited because we [you and I] both come to recognize, acknowledge, respect, and affirm differences and in hopes it will keep on rubbing to the future generations of Eritreans. The multicultural world that Eritrea is blessed with cannot be a mechanism by which a dictator can use as his play-toy, it is a tapestry of
    mosaic cultures voluntarily coming together to coexist. And we will continue to fight for such an occurrence with everything that we’ve got and it needs to begin within our Eritrean Muslim ethnic groups, whom we must validate and appreciate as part and parcel of that mosaic Eritrea. In one of your responses, you said the following that was profoundly apt:

    “…if a movement can emerge that would re-activate the nationalism of tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of Eritrean Muslim youth who are lost in the ghettoes of Wahhabism, in the “dual nationalism” of Sudan, in the hopelessness and indifference that has been 30 years in the
    making, why of course I am ALL for IT.”

    Closely related to the above, from “Change We can’t Believe In”, under the subheading of “The What”, to hone in on the cohesion, theme, and thread that my article concerns itself with, I am borrowing
    the following: I know this does not do justice to your article as I enjoyed it for its saliency, humor, synthesis, flow, cohesion, the whole nine yard, this in my book is one of your best. I probably should not say this as I have not read all of your articles over the years, but I have read my share and this just is incomparable. Digression aside and without further ado back to the subject at hand:

    “…How will people switch their allegiance from atavistic (religious, ethnic, regional) to ideological (political programs, independent associations?) Hasn’t the post-ELF politics of Eritrea shown that the glue that holds a political party together is very weak and when its adhesive power
    is diluted people just fall to the gravitational pull of their atavistic allegiances? Is there an intent to address the concerns of those who are concerned about being dominated, or will they all be dismissed as fear-mongers?” (

    It is with the above precise understanding to which I wholeheartedly concur and that I come to support ELL. The last thirty-to-thirty-six years, Eritreans have been entrenched to their respective “gravitational pull of their atavistic allegiances ” of ethnicity, religiosity, and regionalism that we must accept that fact and embrace them all in their current shape and form so long they stand shoulder to shoulder with Eritrean national identity. Such validation, acknowledgment, and utter respect to their unique and diverse nature of their Eritreanism will only serve to empower everyone involved; thereby expedite the fall of the menace at home. It is in our fragmentation Nsu keeps on thriving. Nsu’s power is directly proportional to our fragmentation.

    This is the venue in which we can clarify matters that have been too foggy for too long in our heads so much so that they can seem to have been as these “deadly fog” which could as easily have been
    transformed into “the cold mist of bias and ignorance” [borrowed from Lisa Delpit (2006)] which we don’t think twice about, which we lazily may accept as reality instead of shaking them off the deep recess of our hearts and mind and begin to see their genesis. The genesis, my friend Sal, you have
    gotten it right how we go about in ameliorating the matter is what we must openly, honestly, respectfully, and sincerely have a discourse in.


  • saay7

    Hala Adarob:

    Just kidding; I was just trying to see if you were invited and you just told me. The Asmarino boys call this “shiTara” :). I was thinking of attending but only if there are no swords or Halib Insa. Hahaha


  • saay7

    msl melheyka t’hajek Alko malle…and he wants to know why you didn’t even invite him to the ELL. Hahahaha


  • guest

    Thank you brother Beyan for the truth you are correctly and timely writing in this, in light of the political changes and realities surfacing in Eritrea and the region, specially, after the Forto Operations and and the development in Yemen and creating 2 yemens as well as the possible birth of an East Sudan Republic in the model of South Sudan Republic; which could happen in our lifetime. That eastern sudan republic of Kassala and Red Sea states will directly effect and impact to our western and northern borders unless we have metahitians who have full allegiance to the Union of Eritrea. And that could be achieved by embracing them, their aspirations and rights.You are an outspoken brother and made your point very clear and convincing. You didnt come with any new truth. You just reminded us of The Truth to the plight of our metahitian from the time Haile Sellassie stepped his feet in Eritrean soil till the sha3biyyah dictatorship under the current regime.” Inne fi thaalike le thikra limen kaane lehu qalbun aw alqas sam3e wahuwa shaheed.” 50:37.
    You dont need me or anyone else to add to your maticulous article and comments. I’m only here to give you a moral support for your courage to stand holding in the sea of darkness and orchestrated coverup, even usingmy weak and broken English. I’m glad you are prepared to such vicious scrutiny by some. That is the kismet of great thinkers and and sha3biyya system comformists. Even great teachers like Muhammad and Jesus faced bullheaded, rigid opponents and enemies such as the scribes and pharasees of jews and mushrikeen and munafiqeen of arabs. So dont yeild to the distractors. Keep writing for the truth.
    As to bro/ sister Ayneta: can you please look at the eyes of students of Addi QeiH and tell them to stop whining of bulldozing their houses and they better work for the deposing of Esayas; then, we can study their case? Our brothers and sisters in Metahit faced worse than just burning their houses and fields. They were also burned alive by Commandos and Tor Serawits.mothers raped. Pregnant women torn their bellies to see the gender f the fetus..and more.The house of the metahitian is as worth as the house of Addi Qeihan.
    As to brother saay7, you really have become naafikh al keer in talking trash of ELL. In fact, when it comes to the subject of ELL, you are the last person to be taken seriously; taking into account that you are already on record here in coming out of the blue, and from nowhere direction, without any prologue- if the is the correct word for muqaddimaat- to declare that ELL is wrong about everything. And you are also on record calling Ustatha Aisha Gaas, Ustath Hamid Omar Ezzaz, –NAY– the leadership of the Eritrean Lowlanders League as ” kids.” What a manner from a university professor and a CEO of a respected College and a co-founder of this respected media outlet and university. “…… قد بدت البغضاء من افواههم وما تخفي
    صدورهم اكبر….” 3:118. The last time i heard a man calling another man “anta qol3a was decades ago in Eritrea when two skunies were slandering each other with that and other bad words. Yes, I also heard some ” bedeuin” in KSA calling one another “war3″ and ” weled “but that was in a very cordially way as per their culture at the time. I know some deregatory words too. But i will be ashamed to use them at you or at any other gentleman/ woman. It will degrade me before hurting the other person. If you have a personal grudge or vendetta towards the association or its leaders, deal it with them in a private room. You dont have to spew it out here.
    Thank you brother saay7. I dont mean any ham to you. Just be humble in debating withmen like you.

    • guest

      … the Union of Eritrea, to continue be on our side*
      holding the candle* in the sea…..
      great thinkers by* sha3biyyah

    • saay7

      Selamat Guest:

      You said “And you are also on record calling Ustatha Aisha Gaas, Ustath Hamid Omar Ezzaz, –NAY– the leadership of the Eritrean Lowlanders League as ” kids.”

      You are absolutely right. Those are indeed my words; there is no right context to say them and for that I apologize to them and to all who were offended by that. I screwed up.

      The questions I asked Bayan N and the ELL still remain and I would appreciate responses to them. The fact that I am asking questions should indicate that I am curious and I must see some potential with the idea—otherwise I normally wait for organizations to bask in the sun and then walk into the sunset without any input from me.


      • AbuMyar

        You live and you learn and you will be wrong again….

        Indeed a great opportunity to engage the one and only SY. When it comes to Eritrean
        opposition writers, the double helix S-S (SY and SGJ) stand untouched by fellow
        talented writers. The bearers of Awate symbolism and the defenders of his vision
        and mission give me reasons to celebrate the Eritrean patriotism. Your writings
        have entertained me, taught me and inspired to me to keep the Eritrean dream
        alive. Thank you for your endless contributions to our just cause.

        Dear AbuSalah,

        I am basing the comments below on an exchange you had with a guest who claimed that you
        called some ELL leaders “kids”. I could not find the article in question where
        such claim was made. I took your brave statement of apology to mean that such
        claim was made. If not, please accept my apology and disregard the following

        It is difficult to understand why a writer of your stature unnecessarily chooses to
        alienate a segment of Eritreans who align with ELL and their leaders. Where does
        calling the honorable daughter of Metahit, ustaza Aisha Ga’as and the true
        advocate for al munkhafadat, ustaz Izaz “kids” come from? You are a writer who
        is in control of his written words and in possession of endless vocabulary to
        make the ugly look beautiful and the weak appear strong. Please elaborate
        beyond “there is no right context to say them and for that I apologize
        to them and to all who were offended by that. I screwed up.” to explain the mindset that made you
        accept such description of people whose effort to rally the lowlanders I
        respect. Clearly, dissing these leaders does not mount to dissing all lowlanders,
        but a choice you made to accept that risk. You may know of reasons that many of
        us don’t to justify such label. Please share further insights…..

        Some lowlanders in my circle of friends and family members see as a place where
        the bashing of ELL is the new trend, welcomed by the head ‘chiefs’ S-S. I say
        not true and unreasonable hypersensitivity on their part. Yesterday, on my way
        to work, I called a family member who is a diehard ELL supporter to read ustaz
        Beyan’s article in support of ELL. He flatly said that “I no longer visit Awate,
        they have crossed the line and disrespected ELL”. I wonder calling ELL leaders
        “kids” is what they are talking about. I appreciate the missed opportunity for ELL supporters to use this medium to present their vision and view points. For now, we need ustaz Beyan and ustaz
        Amanuel Hidrat to help Ellites find the house of Awate, a fortress built upon
        the aspirations of the lowlanders.

        Still an admirer of your brilliance.

    • Bayan Nagash

      My pleasure Guest. We have a great deal of work that we must do in streamlining the coalition in the opposition so that its impact will be felt at the home-front. I just see no other way moving forward if the coalition is to strengthen its base it must be willing and able to absorb groups from all walks of life so long they have Eritrea’s best interest at heart – i.e., the removal of the menace and in its stead the reformulation of a nation that can thrive through a system that validates and is accepting of all Eritreans.


  • Bayan Nagash

    Selam Sal, Ayneta, and Adorab,

    The unequivocal support I am giving to ELL has little to do with my feelings, but a
    whole lot to do with wanting to embrace a new sociopolitical lens as opposed to
    the old – tried and tired – lens that is top heavy impositions that can be
    traced to the pre-independent Eritrea where everything was defined and decided
    in how each culture was going to be orchestrated to fit the ideological mold.
    Those days have been over, but one wouldn’t think so watching Eri-TV just for
    five minutes of cultural and musical shows is very telling in how such dispensations
    are alive and well and such resistance coming from the learned individuals like
    you is case and point, besides.

    Of course, in this space I definitely knew I was going to get resistance. This wasn’t going
    to be selling fire-distinguisher to a person whose house is burning, nor necessarily
    a walk in the park. Categorically, dismissing groups that surface may be
    easier, and that new developments such as the formation of ELL or any other
    mass mobilization that enter into the Diaspora’s sociopolitical space; broadening
    the circle, as it were, of partakers, prima facie, may appear counterproductive
    – I am here to countervail that erroneous assumption. For I truly believe groups
    with strong conviction about their cultural identity are in the end the best asset that should be
    honored and embraced, a force and energy of which can be channeled to what’s is
    ailing Eritrea, but first they must be welcomed and not resisted.

    But, in your penchant to disagree with the ideas that I was presenting because for one
    reason or another you had already a made-up mind that nothing good could come
    from ELL, both of you (Ayneta & Sal) are obviously missing the larger point I was attempting
    to make. Again, since I am not singing to the choir here, I must make every
    effort to make you see that the place of concern for Eritrea’s future is where my support to ELL
    emanates from.

    First, to my friend Sal, who even went on misremembrance expedition to counter argue on how
    SGJ and me arrived at two opposing viewpoints as though our premises were incepted on the individual ELLites that we knew or we talked. In SGJ’s case, he did not say he spoke with them; all he said was that he knew most of the personalities who were at the initial London gathering and that his criticism thus should not compromise or misconstrue their strong and friendly ties. SGJ was using the seven individuals as a prelude to separate the personalities from the organization that they formed though the way you (my friend Sal) are remembering it is a good indication that in the end it may have had the opposite effect.

    I am not sure if knowing someone from the past provides any validity on the thinking that went on to found ELL, because these individuals could have evolved in their thinking. That is the reason I mentioned that I personally talked to some of the individuals and received specificities of their vision and mission in how they saw Eritrea’s future and through secular lens;and I was left with this
    unequivocal determination that their role was going to be positive in it. I am not certain if SGJ specifically asked them questions before or after ELL’s formation to see where they were coming from or that his critique was based on knowing them. Either way, I will let the reader to be the arbiter. Here is the article in question that SGJ penned:

    The larger point that must be made here is that ELL or any organizations that will be founded in
    the future or are in existence already have their trajectories. What I see in ELL is bottom-up (grassroots) movement in which its participants are reviving their own cultural, communal, social, and hopefully political space (the latter is my own wish; ELL has not formally announced that it was a political organization).

    The spaces that ELLites are inhabiting, in the past and in the present Eritrea, were and are dictated by some sort (top-down) cultural minister, if you will, who would determine which parts will be shown to the public for the purposes of eliciting some sense of conviviality, to give an appearance of solidarity and representation., such cultural and musical tropes are patronizing at best. And groups like ELL are surfacing to say, the Tigrinya hegemony will not define who we are. We own our own culture. We own our own tradition; we will revive and define it ourselves.

    The challenge to all of us who are outside such scope is in seeing ELL in such light and not
    in that anachronistically concocted world that was created, one that has had its own sociopolitical trajectories when it was created. The problem became when minsters of cultural virtues decided to apply those same top heavy social and communal spaces post-independent Eritrea. So, ELLites are saying stop using the outdated tools to superficially define who we are. We will tell you who we. How we see ourselves and not how you see us. Our cultural identity, our part in the future of Eritrea we will define it ourselves seems to me to be their coherent message.

    Incidentally, ELL is not the only group, there is precedence to this: the Jeberti group. As we speak Jebertis are dealing with Eritrean government that keeps on telling them who they are, and who they are cannot be defined by government bureaucrats. The Jebertis are saying that they are biher and no government should dictate what their identity is. The recent forms circulating in Eritrean embassies in Diaspora is boxing the Jeberti to define themselves through their language is a clear and present danger that top heavy dictatorial regimes love to taunt the public with. Here is an audio file from Australia from recent days that illustrates this point:

    It is in the embracing of organizations like ELL, the Jebertis, the Sahos, the Afars, the Kunamas, etc. that will deliver us away from the sociopolitical quagmire that the Diaspora seems to be suffering to a much robust Eritrean opposition that will threaten and shorten the existence of the menace at home.
    The problem with those who have hegemonic power is that they show impatience to such retooling and repurposing, but it is in these paradigm shifts where we will find our strong oppositional voice, a voice that will bring us together to fight the evil at home. The rhetoric of the enemy at home will keep on thriving at the seeming proliferation of oppositions groups might be true short-term, but long-term, it can become a force to contend with, however, it can only become that if we are willing to embrace, validate, acknowledge, and sincerely welcome them all to the fighting arena.

    Beyan/Bayan (

    • sara

      ato beyan, now you made it easy to understand why you are defending the EEL by putting it in par to our jeberti (some) folks( im referring your above comment) demands for a separate identity from their tigrinya brothers/ other wards you are telling us this is the best way forward an ethnically divided nation as in ethiobia, iraq and soon syria and yemen.
      honestly, i am one of those who likes your sober approach in your writings in this forum but never imagined you have that sort of inclination. .its true as they say, you live and learn.

      • Bayan Nagash

        Kbrti Sara (is there similar term for ato that one can use for a female without saying weizero/weizerit in Tigrinya?)

        In your haste to box me in some preconceived category, you’re jumping the bher gun on my person. I mentioned Jeberti, Sahos, Afaris, Kunamas, etc. to illustrate the
        point that people should decide what their identities are. The emphasis on the
        first stems from the fact that the Jeberti group have been telling us how to be
        defined, but we in our hegemonic power trip. I say we, obviously, not for its royal reference, but rather for its collective pronoun, because I am a highlander and I identify myself as such with no allegiance to any biher; with every intent of defining myself and seeing myself through the lens of national identity…so, you’re certainly free to extrapolate what you wish from that, but I do not belong to the Jeberti or any other group that identifies itself by its ethnic make-up – I see myself via my national disposition. I may have more in common with you eza haftey than you care to think.

        That said, I may fall into the category of aberration in that how I define myself is really
        irrelevant as one does not make generalizations of others based on one’s anomalous dispositions. Therefore, I have to step-out of my individual conceptions and try to see
        issues in their appropriate contexts.

        So, kberti Sara, this is not about my inclination, but my attempt to see issues from the perspective of groups who are demanding and deciding how to be identified, and who am I to tell them otherwise – that indeed is the starting point, acknowledging and respecting any group’ identifiers as they deem it appropriate for them to be defined by.

        We’ve tried the superficially concocted cultural trope and it may have served its
        purposes in the past. However, the future of Eritrea cannot be defined on the
        basis of Awat nHaffash when the Haffash are asking to be validated, acknowledged, and respected for who they are and who they are are not hade lbbi hade hzbi – that mantra will not hold neither today nor in tomorrow’s Eritrea.


        • sara

          kubur ato beyan, thank you for your reply and sharing some of your thoughts. just for the sake of clarity the ahde libbi hade hzbe is i think a pop expression of our unity integrity as Eritreans at least
          for those of us outside the peripheries of our elites political discourse. most people every where am sure have similar expression if not libi ,it could be eye,mind, etc.i am saying the populace not the political elites, because they don’t have real heart.

          • Bayan Nagash

            selam sara,

            I totally understand the importance of slogans, motto, bumper sticker size ideas that capture the essence of what we stand for, and the like. But in the case of Eritrea hade lbbi hade hzbi is so misplaced that it smacks one as absurdity of the highest order, that’s all.

            Otherwise, I could definitely see it working in the future of Eritrea when something like the following prominently becomes our reality: When we recognize, acknowledge, respect, and affirm differences in the children and adult Eritrean alike that the tapestry of mosaic cultures voluntarily coming together to coexist. Affirmation of differences, by necessity, requires us to first affirm our similarities in our humanness.

            Therefore, enumerating our similarities will only serve to affirm our differences, differences viewed in such contexts become a unifying theme, not to control the “Other” but to celebrate and cherish those who are different from us.

            kbret yhaballay eza Haftey,

    • saay7

      MerHaba Beyan:

      I had asked a few questions in first post that I am hoping either an ELL representative or an “uneqivocal” supporter like you would provide. While you are at it, you created a contrast between “top heavy impositions” of the “tried and tired” with ELL which you described as grassroots. My understanding of grassroots movement is that they are spontaneous people’s movements created and led by common folk: how does ELL qualify for that, exactly?

      You expressed your belief that “groups with strong conviction about their identity” are an asset that should be “honored and embraced” but “first they must be welcomed and not resisted” and you described my skepticism as knee-jerk opposition, a “penchant to disagree.” Allah ysamHek ye Bayan.

      How about a different reason for it, Bayan. Namely: this is not our first rodeo.

      This is not the first time that “groups with strong conviction about their identity” have made their case. There was the “Dekebat” movement: talk about conviction; they were religious in their conviction. Then came Herui T. Bairou’s “Adi Strategy” movement: that was identity politics too. Then (in 2009) came Tadamun, the coalition formed by ELF, EFDM, Islah, Al-Khalas to “restore Muslim rights.” Incidentally, Tadamun was Ali Salim last object of affection before he fell in love again with ELL.

      So, no, sir, the time where my default position to every organization is “honor, embrace, welcome…” is long, long gone. That approach gave us 40+ Eritrean opposition organizations, remember? The time now is to ask: who are you? What do you want? And does your existence slow down or accelerate positive change? Does your existence increase or decrease likelihood of having a Republic that has equality, dignity, justice for all?

      An organization then has two options: to answer the skeptics, and to persuade them. Or to completely ignore them and create its own reality where we do not matter at all. Either way, it is a win-win for the organization if it can rise up to it.


      • Bayan Nagash

        Ya’hala Saleh Y.,

        The lightning speed at which you communicate may have
        something to do with why the excellent questions you posed have not been
        answered. As an equivocal supporter, the only answer I can give is full of
        opinion laced impressions. I came to offer my opinion, but then reading the
        link you sent from 2010 (“Change We Can’t Believe In”) remarkably altered the
        opinion piece I had in mind as your piece was a “tour-de-force” (to borrow your
        terminology) that was at once historical &political synthesis at its best,
        which reads like literature and feels like a philosophy. I am riveted by it and
        I clearly see the clear connection to the topic at hand.

        I was disappointed, however, in my inability to access the recommended link you sent for your readers to read before reading “Change We Can’t Believe In” because there was no article of Aklilu in both of the links to be had. Tried as I might to find it in the archive, it was to no avail. So, I might as well wait until I read Aklilu’s two articles that you highly recommend before my opinion, yet, again shifts somewhat. I know when you recommend something as a must read, then, there will be clear relevance to the subject at hand.

        Until then, thank you for sharing your article – there is a great deal of food for thought in it.


  • Ayneta

    My point is not to negate or refute the claims of ELL, nor is it to throw it away as meritless. Analysing the credibility of their claim is Irrelevant here.However, the timing and the background under which it has been propagagted doesnt serve the common interest. If we are preoccupaied with our respective narrow interests, wouldn’t that serve the government handily ? If we all garee that PFJD is the common problem to the struggle, then cooking new groups with narrow motives wont take us anywhere, in fact, it can indefinitely derail the struggle or even completely cripple it . It is under these kind of backdrop that I disagree with establishing groups like ELL, no matter how convincing or legit they are.

  • Ayneta

    Good to see you again Beyan:

    I think the main concern some of us have about this fragmentation-based
    politics is that it won’t serve the struggle that has been waged against the
    Eritrean Government. Such approach to Eritrean problems is not only acrimonious
    but also potentially harmful. How do you
    make sure that such approach will benefit the struggle? How would you see it if
    other people also established new organizations based on similar variables say
    liberating the highland from the evils of the regime? What if people come up with
    organizations that serve their specific religious belief, ethnicity? If you endorse one organization that is
    purported to further the interest of certain region, ethnicity, religion, you
    lose your practical right to denounce similar groups with narrow motives.

    We should be very careful not to hop in the wagon and support
    one organization just because we sympathize with them or their premises. What we
    need at this point in time is to converge our resources and coordinate our assets, convert our
    differences into strength. That is the only way to defeat the shared enemy. Otherwise
    the enemy will dance tango on the very battlefield we are trying to win. I don’t see how the Elm will serve the effort
    to bring change in Eritrea while they covertly or otherwise denounce the
    highlanders as ‘land grabbers, chauvinists etc’ ( plz note: I am not defending
    the highlanders).

    Lets call the ELL for what it is: immature, unrealistic and
    narrowly focused group that has been
    established by few individuals who are stubborn enough to think that they
    represent the lowlands. Lets not echo their malicious agenda and give a thump
    up by writing superfluous articles. I expect more from you Ato Beyan. I truly
    am a big fan of your writings. This one fell short of my expectations and
    frankly disappointing to say the least.


    • Abel

      What is the final mission of ELL? liberate the low lander’s and guarantee self determination? autonomy with in the state of Eritrea, or eventual unification with the Sudan as in the initial proposal of the league of nation of 1952 ?

  • saay7

    Selamat Bayan:

    Welcome back, again.

    The Eritrean Lowland League had its initiation document published, among other places, here at The document is here:

    While the parallels you create with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) are interesting, and I take your point that one must not restrict an organization to its name, it would have been more helpful, in my opinion, if you take the ELL more seriously and critique its presentation.

    A personal testimony of how swell the founders are, well-intentioned though it may be, is not decisive. SGJ went to great lengths to tell us how swell they are, yet reached a different conclusion from you.

    The question that is in my mind is this. At this time, there are different organizing principles on how to (a) bring about change in Eritrea and (b) ensure that the change the will come has a higher probability of being positive and sustainable. Towards these two goals, there are organizations who have proposed:

    (a) ethnic federation of sorts, including right of secession: for example: Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrean Kunama (DMLEK) and Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO)
    (b) regional federation, for example: Eritrean Federal Democratic Movement (EFDM)
    (c) religious federation, for example: Eritrean Islamic Islah Movement (Islah)
    (d) Two youth groups, one US-based (EYSC) and one Ethiopia-based, Eritrean Youth Solidarity for National Salvation (EYSNC-Semret) (Now Eritrean Solidarity Movement for National Salvation??)
    (e) Several decentralized “constitutional democracy” organizations, including Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)
    (f) One umbrella organization, Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) which groups SOME of the organizations;
    (g) Another umbrella organization, Eritrean National Congress for Democratic Change (ENCDC/Bayto)
    (h) A number of civil society groups including the latest Eritrean Forum for National Dialogue (EFND)

    Mind you, these are all organizations who attempt to attract lowlanders and some, by definition, are lowlanders (DMLEK and RSADO, for example)

    So, how is the goal of ELL different from, say, EFDM?
    Is the launching of the ELL a supplement to the existing organizations or a replacement? Does supplementary or replacement enhance or diminish the struggle?
    How is the launching of yet another organization going to be received by the people who have seen dozens of organizations come and go in the past 15 years?

    So, to the extent you detect skepticism (and I think you do), it is because these are some of the questions that will need answers–as it competes for the attention of the Society and sympathizers.


  • Bayan Nagash

    Selam KS, Tes, & Guest,

    Tes, I hear you brother. The dilemma as I see it is that we
    sometimes fail to see what someone or some organization is telling us they
    want, instead we offer our analysis based on what we wish to see in them. Allow
    me to elaborate. ELL says it believes in ABC, but some of us say no you cannot
    be that you must be XYZ instead. The other issue I see is that some make this
    erroneous assumption that if a certain group is being criticized by its own, it
    cannot be a viable group. So, I appreciate you seeing ELL for what it is a
    group of Eritreans sharing their concerns, their grievances (as you put it),
    and they just want to be part of the national discourse – that in my book is a
    healthy thing.

    KS, the clip you shared was a sober reminder in how far back
    the suffering of Eritreans goes and how so many young stars gave their lives
    for Eritrea that has yet to give its people back what they deserve: peace and

    Guest, kamakh gasha yebzehayyo. You’ve done a marvel at
    capturing the essence of what I am attempting to convey in this piece, and when
    that happens I just want to sit back and enjoy the conversation.

    Kbret yhabellay ezom ahwatay


    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Beyan,

      ንሕና ደቂ ሰባት ካብ ግዜ ናብ ግዜ ኣእምሮና ክሰፍሕን ኣብ መመድረኹ ካብ ደረጃ ናብ ደረጃ ክብ እናበልና ንወለዶታት ከነሰጋግርን ኢና ተፈጢርና :: ነዚ ኣብ ምስሳይ ኣብዘይንኽእለሉ እዋን ክፋል ናይ ደቂ ሰባት ይህሰዩ ‘ሞ ይሳቀዩ : በዚ ምኽንያት ከኣ ዋጋ ስቃዮም ካለኦት ‘ውን ይኸፍልዎ ዝብል ጽኑዕ እምንቶ ኣለኒ :: ኣረኣእያይ ምስ ትሒዘ ጸኒሕ ሃይማኖታት ‘ውን ዝጓነጽ ኣይመስለንን ::

      ካብ ‘ዚ ብምንቃል ድማ ሰብ ብሰላም ክነብር እንተደልዩ ናይ ዋንነት ጠባዩ – ኣክራሪ – ዓባጢ – ጎባጢ ክኸውን የብሉን ኢለ ይኣምን ::ሓደ ብሽሙ ብሽም ኣቡኡን ባህሉን ስርዓቱን ክኾርዕን መሰሉ እዩ :: ንኻለኦት ብሽሙ ክጽውዑ : ብባህሉ ክቅየዱ ክሳብ ዘየገደደ ኸኣ ተመሳሳሊ ክብረት ክረክብ ግድን እዩ :: ብሓይሊ ተመኪሕካ ንኻለኦት ክትውንን ምፍታን ንግዚኡ ዕውት ‘ኳ እንተመሰለ ውዒሉ ሓዲሩ ግን ንጭካኔን ናይ ኣይምብርከኽን ዝብል ቀንጻሊ ሓይሊ ምዕዳምን እዩ ውጺኢቱ ::

      ሎሚ ካብ ጎባጢ ኣረ ኣእያ ነጻ ዘይኮነ ኤርትራዊ ካብ ህግደፍ ዝፈልዮ ነገር እንተልዩ ኣብ ስልጣን ዘይምህላው ጥራይ እዩ :: እቲ ዝድለ ዘሎ – ጠለብ ካልኦት ኣተሓሳስባታት ተቀቢልካ ሚዛናዊ ኣረኣእያ ፈጢርካ ምንባር እዩ :: ውዳበ ELL እምበኣር መሰል ኣባላቱ እዩ ::

      • Bayan Nagash

        ክንደይኳ ምቁር እቲ ትግሪና ብአድካ ዝተጻሓፈ፥ ኣዝዪ ዝድገፍ ሓሳብ አዩ። Literally, I kid you not, KS, it took me twenty minutes until I figured out how to compose this sentence, many of which are misspelled. Please KS forgive me I do not have the patience like you seem to as I have seen how prolific you are in Tigrinya. Perhaps, my attempt at writing in Tigrinya will have to wait until the
        necessary technology or an ap that allows me to convert a hand written note
        comes to my possession. I envy your lucidity.

        You captured the essence of my point in two succinct paragraphs that I was unable to do in my long winded polemic writing – in essence, that’s precisely what I wanted to convey to my fellow Eritreans.

        Nothing good comes from hegemonic power of any ilk: be it via individual or from groups; from majority or from minority – that’s what we must vehemently fight against. Social and political justice are the kernel that will keep a mosaic society like ours to live in harmony, peace, and tranquility.

        yhaballay haw KS,


        • Kokhob Selam

          Thank you, we couldn’t learn if people like you are not enlighten us.

      • saay7

        Selamat Kokob Selam:

        What you wrote above is so compelling it should be used as the preamble for the ELL. In fact, you should have Sem A translate it to Tigrayit and either SGJ or Mahmouday translate it to Arabic and gift it to ELL. Well done.

        What we are discussing is not whether ELL has the right to assemble itself. Leave alone an organization with potentially huge constituency, even two-man organizations have a right to assemble into two-man group. The question is: is the creation of such a group on a net-net basis, positive or negative for the movement for change? How will it impact organizations who already have lowlanders as members: can it successfully present itself as a civil society and encourage lowlanders to continue their membership in other organizations or will there be HR raiding as often happens with new organizations? Do lowlanders see themselves as lowlanders or as members of the various tribes they belong to: that is, does “lowland” have a strong pull? How is it different from the Eritrean Federal Democratic Movement (EFDM) classification of Eritrea as: Western Lowland, Highlands, Eastern Escarpments?

        The Isaias Afwerki’s macro-economic plan (no link) for example, divides Eritrea as: Western Lowland, Highlands and Red Sea Zone. (Vertical slices of Eritrea.) But guess what: in that vertical slicing, Nakfa is part of the highlands (geographically speaking it is “highland”, culturally it is “lowland.”)

        I ask all these questions because, depending on how they classify people, not just land, I am either a member of the Society or a sympathizer:)


        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Hey Saay,

          Your questions:

          1- Do lowlanders see themselves as lowlanders or as members of the various tribes they belong to: that is, does “lowland” have a strong pull?

          Ans : They see themselves, both as lowlanders and also members of various tribes. They might or might not have a strong pull depending on how they make “common grievances” for the various tribes within the inscribed and prescribed lowland areas.

          2- can it successfully present itself as a civil society and encourage lowlanders to continue their membership in other organizations or will there be HR raiding as often happens with new organizations?

          Ans: If ELL are civic organizations, they should not be in other political organizations, as the task of the political and civic organizations is completely different. The political organizations are for political power and civic organization are for socio-political advocacy.

          3 – Can it rise over lowland history of East-West polarization expertly exploited by Haile Selasse and Isaias Afwerk?

          Ans: Not necessary. As far as they are bounded by their mission statement, they could be a healthy civic organization.

          4 – How is it different from the Eritrean Federal Democratic Movement (EFDM) classification of Eritrea as: Western Lowland, Highlands, Eastern Escarpments?

          Ans: Remember EFDM is a political organization, their classification of western lowland, highland, Eastern lowland is purely for their political end as oppose to ELL which is for civic and social justice.

          5- The Isaias Afwerki’s macro-economic plan (no link) for example, divides Eritrea as: Western Lowland, Highlands and Red Sea Zone. (Vertical slices of Eritrea.) But guess what: in that vertical slicing, Nakfa is part of the highlands (geographically speaking it is “highland”, culturally it is “lowland.

          Ans: I assume ELL will not take into consideration the current regional administrations. They expect a new agreed administrative units by future legislative body.

          *** Saay, my answers are simply from an external observer as he reads their minds. I might be wrong. But I am also hinting that they are not difficult questions to answer them. I am sure they are ready to answer for such possible questions.

          Senay MeAlti,
          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Kokhob Selam

            Lol, Say7 is very much fast and intelligent. it took me time to get the questions and answer them in the way I understand. but I fully understand them after reading yours. we are so lucky we own you and Saleh, sure you guys are going to lead the way if you work together.

          • AbuMyar

            Thank you ustaz Amanuel for taking the time to answer AbuSalah’s questions. Recognizing ELL as a civic organization should make it easier to compare it to other civic organizations. Many people are turned off by that designation including many LL; they wish that ELL would be a political organization with stated objectives of uprooting the devil in Asmara and his evil empire. I think their role is needed more as a civic organization more than a political organization at this time or our struggle. Al Kabir Saleh for some reason keep on mixing injera with pancakes and wanting us to tell the difference….
            Shurakan ya ustaz,

        • Semere Andom

          Cousin Sal:
          I am refusing the assignment (fear being sued by a Wad Haiget wannabe) and instead I am offering to translate to PFDJ Tigirniya so the lowlanders who are supporting PFDJ can appreciate and understand ELL betere;-)

          • saay7

            Cousin Semere:

            You are such a derho sometimes. Who cares about Wad Haiget? I am liberated from FB and won’t read what he has to say. The real reason I think is u have lost ur mojo. U are afraid that SGJ and Mahmoudai and Terrible Cousin Gheteb will correct u. U should go full speed ahead and translate. Because it’s for the children.*


            * the ultimate lib-guilting technique. Did it work?

  • tes

    Dear Bayan,

    You gave life to ELL when ALi Salim destroyed it. Your work is really an honest and true to the values of ELL original inception of the fighting for the grievances. People like Ali hijacked the main vision of ELL and blackmailed it with their disillusioned hate based analysis.

    From the very beginning I was so positive about ELL but reading Ali Salim’s and some commenters like Ali made me to keep an eye focus for this organization. It is very true (as you pointed it out clearly) that the all-type of grievances to the lowland people is at high display. ANd forming a strong force who can advocate for the rights of these people is a must. The only thing is: religion should not be their motto plus the ideas of separatism bla bla. I didn’t believe ELL was upto that level though Ali Salim wrongly analysed it as usual.

    ELL should be free from individuals like Ali Salim and Ali so that their mission can be accomplished successful.

    Thank you


    • Kokhob Selam

      Thank you Bayan, thank you tes

      We will strongly defend for our unity accepting our differences, we will feel all the feeling of each other. we will build the real unity on the base our elders prepared.

      go to Togorba on this month march 1964 heroic war and enjoy the song of our young fighters in 70’s

  • guest

    Mashaallah brother Beyan Negash for this enjoyable and interesting article. You constructed it in a very convincing and persuasive approach for all fair minded Eritreans to see and learn about this great and noble of Eritrean organizations. It also comes just days before the anniversary of ELL inception last year in London and following brother Ali Salim’s series of the ELL watheeqa as he expounded and tafseered it from his perspective. They will celebratetheir first festival in the first week of coming april. We are sooo fortunate to have professors like you in this university for perpetual and continuous education to enlighten our people based on reading the pamphlets and talking to the authorities of such organization in unbiased presentation.May Allah Yibarkh’kum. May

    Allah ye3bikhum..Hhaqqi kabakhum
    aytiffele. Please stay around these days as
    many will need your commentaries to your
    article or explain some extra things of ELL.
    As for brother ali:

    • guest

      As for brother Ali…The ELL have their kifli bahli..and recently have introduced فرقة احفاد عواتى reviving the classical un-adulterated, un-tigrianized beatiful language of tigre as well as the other components of metahitian tribes..and not only in language, but also in traditional dances, cultures, even culinary varieties which is rich in nutruition and more thing: if you type MUNKHAFADATwith correct spelling, it will help you find them. “Addey Mariam men shimen? Answer: Rekhibka si’inkayyen “.
      As for brother dawit: indeed, as you correctly demanded, and using your words, the ELL have come out clearly and told the Eritrean people who they are and their Goal in their manifesto, ” Common Principles and Action Plan : An initiative to rally the Eritrean Lowland Societies ” . In Arabic, ” ميثاق العمل و المبادئ المشتركة : مبادرة لجمع شمل المنخفضات الارترية “. It is allover the net and printing friendly. I
      encourage you and others read it and get
      look into what they stand for and goals as
      well as action plans. It is not very big document. Takes about one hour or so to
      read. We dont evaluate or judge any group
      by what its adversaries/ enemies say about
      the group. Same fairness should be applied
      to ELL. As far as language, i also like
      English, i just am not esayas kind of dictator
      to dictate on others what language they
      should adopt for their kids education. The
      countries you mentioned whether France,
      Russia, China, Japan, or Arabia, NONE OF
      THEM adopted English as their official
      language or replaced their language by
      English. But i agree with you English should
      also be taught as an extra knowledge
      NEVER hurt. But for now, they decided
      Arabic to be their language of
      communication in their meetings
      ;; and Arabic is one of the INTERNATIONAL languages used in all UN offices.

  • dawit

    First ELL have to clearly come out tell the Eritrean people who you are and your Goal, in short they need their version of “Nihinan Elamanan”. In my opinion that is the major weakness of all opposition groups. As I remember it the first Eritreans to oppose ELL were not from Kebesa but the Eritreans from the Lowland region who publicly disassociate themselves immediately after ELL announced its formation. It looks like ELL is trying to reinvent the wheel, to create itself ELF in 21st. Century. A bunch of jihadist will not deceive Eritreans once again by calling themselves ‘Eritrean Salvation, Democrats etc. If any group or family want to keep their linguistic heritage, then teach your children at home. Learn from the Bilen people despite being surrounded with other languages they managed to keep their native languages intact while learning the languages of their neighbors to communicate with the Kebessa and Metahit people. When it comes to the use of official language, I have much radical idea, I oppose the use of Tigrigna or Arabic. I rather see Eritrea adopt English as its official language, because English is the world languages and most nations use it to communicate in trade and scientific discoveries. Even the Super powers France, Russia, China, Germany Japan and Arabs are struggling to teach their citizens English. The other advantage of using English like countries with Multilanguage heritages would give equal opportunities to all creating a level field to all citizens in education and national government employment opportunities.

    • dawit

      Correction please read “A bunch of jihadist and Crusaders” will not deceive the Eritrean people

  • Ali

    To Beyan Negash
    Thank you for the detail analysis and smart conclusions. I think as usual the solution is from the lowland not from the highlanders who are very narrow not inclusive. The use of Tigre language is also something which is important to defend the extension of the language of the highlanders at the expense of our languages and culture. I beg all Tigre speaking people to use their own language in every official meetings and offices then the struggle will intensify from the grassroots.
    Please a lot of people are looking for you to support both in becoming member and finance please would you give us your address.
    I wish success to ELL.

    • T..T.


      As much as the main concerns of the league is to defend its members and fight against Isayas’s mistreatments, it has to clearly state that its membership is not open to Isayasists. Otherwise it is not safe from Isayas’s control through the lowlanders within his control.

      Do you know that the worst enemies of the lowlanders are the lowlanders who practice Isayasism. Similarly, the worst enemies of Isayasists are the Kebesas. Therefore, it is advisable that the main focus of ELL should be to gain the trust of Kebesas within the opposition and work with them in order to defeat its main enemy, the Isayasists be it a lowlander or a Kebesa.

      • Bayan Nagash

        T.T., you stole my sunder. Akin to what you said, this is what I wanted to say to Ali: It is one thing to display justifiable anger over any kind of injustice, but we must very careful not to slip into the territory of righteous indignation that borders to a wholesale blame game that an entire Eritrean highland generation is being subjected to the same malice,
        indignation, and brutality. Eritreans from all walks of life are victims of the wretched system, as an Eritrean highlander, I thus must urge others to make clear delineation between the system and those who are fighting against it.

        Ali, I usually provide my e-mail at the end of my article, this is one of those moments in which I inadvertently forgot to furnish it; thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so now: