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Rebirth of Eritrea: Beyond the Oppressed Mind

On 24 May Eritrea turned 25–a quarter of a century–a Silver Jubilee! I salute and honour all those patriots (from every walk of life) who paid dearly for the dignity of having our own nation, this in and of itself is a cause for celebration. Equally, this is a milestone and opportunity where we pause and reflect on the journey so far. Sadly, though, on its Silver Jubilee the assessment is dire for Eritrea. Not only did it fall short of the aspirations of its people, it upended their hopes and dreams. The legacy of the revered Eritrean martyrs is dishonoured, they must have rolled in their graves on the Jubilee of a nation they created! The once hopeful nation degenerated so much so that it has adopted unsavory names such as “The North Korea of Africa”, “World’s Fast Emptying Nation”, “A Country Ruled by Fear” and worse a nation which is one of the worst offenders of human rights and possibly committing crimes against humanity (against its own citizens). In the last 25 years and counting…Eritrea turned a belligerent country and has pitted its people to abject poverty and social fragmentation. Its youth pay exorbitant amount of money and risk their lives to run away as fast and as far away from it. Today it has become a country whose citizens have lost hope. This is a damning indictment for a nation once described on its promise of becoming “the brighter star of Africa”. No wonder then Eritreans go through this ambivalent feeling every 24 May and more so on its Jubilee. We and the rest of the world are dumbfounded with the reversal of our fortunes and sorry state of affairs.

For a long time now, my colleagues and I (am sure it is the same with many of you too), have been puzzled by one BIG question, why are we Eritreans (as people) unable to adequately and decisively respond to the indignity and decline we face as a nation? We wonder what has happened to the indomitable spirit of ‘ዘይተጻዓድነት’ we pride in? In the face of such injustice and the undoing of the gains and aspirations of our national struggle, by and large we maintain banality of sorts which raises more questions in itself. In 2004, while at university a good friend of mine from India had had enough of our lamentations and whining about what was unraveling in Eritrea and asked, “what is the problem in your country?”. Our response was obvious and readily available, “it is just one man making our lives miserable”. Ravi (Dr. Ravi) is a down-to-earth by nature and a computational mathematician by profession…he asked what the population size of Eritrea was. What? We were not ready for that question; I guess that is arguably of of the toughest question for an Eritrean? How many are we, even now? It is anybody’s guess, so we gave him a random number–a range to be ‘exact’–4-5 million (I don’t know what those figures (range) means to an Indian, though…). Anyhow, true to form, he dismissed us matter-of-factly, “you guys are idiots [his favourite curse word), why don’t you then do away with him, if it is just one person messing your lives!”. Hmmm…..it got me to ponder and rethink the definition of the problem itself before I could even search for an explanation (solution). We tried to study different experiences and experiments around the world, all in the quest to understand ourselves but we couldn’t quite crack it. Meanwhile, a lot have been written on our harrowing predicaments and as to why we are in this state. Some argue we relinquished our responsibility and remained passive (blind trust), and yet we are all active in some way or another. Others suggested we are ‘hypnotised’ which I think is not adequate explanation, because hypnosis is a trance-like temporary flight of the mind and is micro-managed by a medium, and more, what could be the focus that absorbs our consciousness to the extent we are unable to respond to knocks and blows? Ours feels more like a coma than anything else. In any case, both hypnosis and coma relate to a person’s mind or a nation’s psyche, perhaps an inkling to where we should be looking for an answer.

Recently, I have been on a trance of my own to reflect and seek an answer to that big question. The clues were helpful actually, and as I started to do some reading I came face to face with the complex world of our mind and thought processes. As I went along, I needed an off ramp to our case and found Saleh Younis’ 2013 signpost on ‘Our New Culture of victimhood and Voyeurism’ (published in awate.com). In it Younis writes, ‘One of the worst things the Isaias Afwerki regime has committed against Eritreans is to condition them into emphasizing the status of a victim’. But what is this ‘condition’ of ‘victimhood’? What makes it ‘worse’? What are the mechanics of it? Now, volumes of books could be and have in fact been written on this and so it is difficult to address them in depth in a single commentary article. Also note that the article does not analyze the individual, group, or national experiences, examples are selected to reveal some patterns and indicators of an oppressed mind or victim mentality. So take it from me, this article is incomplete and I don’t pretend to be an expert in psychoanalysis (hopefully the many experts in human psychology amongst us will help us decipher the complex codes that shape our thinking faculties and expand the debate….Haye belu/a!) Rather, this should be viewed as an attempt to add to or provoke a debate on how we can confront our painful individual, group, and national experiences and forge a new future- a better one.

In order to guide the discussion, it maybe better to start by first addressing the key concepts and how they become salient on individuals and collectives. The root cause of an oppressed mind is the experience of oppression which is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.’ It is synonymous with enslavement, abuse, persecution, subjugation, subjection, maltreatment, repression, cruelty, suppression, despotism, tyranny, exploitation, misery, brutality, injustice, suffering, pain, anguish, and more. These are not abstract terms and concepts. They are dozens of lived experiences that result in individual and collective loss, pain, and humiliation. They are meted out in different ways and at different times by the perpetrators (individuals, groups, authorities, and even circumstances). The oppressed mind is also closely linked to ‘victim mentality’ which refers to ‘elements in victims’ psychology that emerges as a result of the harmful [experience]’ (Bar-Tal et al 2009, 231). At least for the purposes of this article the three terms (‘oppressed mind’, victim-mentality’ or ‘victimhood’ ) are synonymous and are used alternatively.  The focus here is not the level and scale of the negative experiences or the perpetrators but the lasting impact of oppression on its victims.  The immediate pain and loss sustained as a result of a harmful action by perpetrators should not be confused with the state of mind that emerges as a consequence of those negative experiences. These experiences can render an individual neurotic and psychotic. According to Bar-Tal and colleagues, indicators of a person suffering from this mentality include helplessness, self-pity, self-inefficiency, low self-esteem, hopelessness, guilt, loss of trust, loss of meaning, an absent sense of accountability and responsibility, hatred, fear, rancour, a tendency to blame external factors, and lack of self-control.

And just as individuals, collectives (eg. a nation) can suffer from victimhood which ‘may result from events that harm the members of the collective because of their membership, even if not all the group members experience the harm directly…groups can suffer from collective victimisation which…is not based only on an objective experience but also on the social construction of it(Bar-Tal et al 2009, 234). It means the collective sense of victimhood maybe be as a result of either actual or perceived harm inflicted on a whole group or members of a group. Obviously, a collective victim mentality or an oppressed national psyche has far-reaching ramifications than an individual (we can seek and find a solution around us). But who can help an oppressed nation?

The collective believes (or perceives) enemies (including perpetrators of the initial harm) are out there to harm it again which results in ‘siege mentality’ (permanent state of collective fear). At all cost the ‘enemies’ (all types of opponents or rivals) are labelled and blackmailed and seen with intense hostility (delegitimisation). Such a nation also often constructs its own reality based on biased or skewed world outlook. Through shared beliefs, attitudes, and emotions the victimhood becomes part of the narrative of the collective. ‘Finally, the collective sense of victimhood becomes a prism through which the society [group] processes information and makes decisions (Bar-Tal et al 2009, 236). This means accepted universal norms are deconstructed to allow the collective to breach them when needed. And this allows it to rationalise and defend immoral acts not only against actual and perceived opponents but also against group members (citizens). Usually it employs violence as a response to any actual and perceived harm against it. Egocentrism and lack of empathy characterise such a group or a nation where their own wrong doing is deliberately suppressed. Instead, regardless of their actions, their victimhood status allows them to claim moral entitlement and demand empathy from others and not condemnation. The consequence is that the collective can do more harm than its initial oppressors, often with impunity. Furthermore, there is lack of accountability and responsibility for its actions and the actions of its members (when they serve the interests of the former). In order to maintain the victim status, the victim processes information selectively and in a biased manner which distorts reality. Through such mechanisms the collective reconstructs its identity and maintains (services) the status quo. Eventually victimhood pits a victim nation (collective) into vicious cycle of violence. Often the oppressed state of mind or state of affairs is emotionally charged and there are those agent provocateurs (mostly ruling elites) who find it ‘conducive’ space from which to operate to achieve their own political and economic interests. They may or not be victims of victimhood themselves but certainly they take advantage of the necessary conditions that exist within a collective. They turn it into uncomfortable ‘comfort zone’ for everyone in their group. They use it as their only weapon (justification) for personal and political agenda. In some cases, the right of admission is even reserved as if it is a privileged space. This pandemic has plagued and continues to affect many nations, societies, and social groups.

In one of his enduring and enlightening quotes, the acclaimed South African anti-apartheid activist and leader of the Black Consciousness Movement, Steve Biko once stated “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. He uttered these abiding words in the face of the humiliation and brutality the black South African majority suffered under white minority rule (apartheid). Perhaps he was wondering…. how could it be possible that a minority “strangers” could subjugate the majority “natives” in their own turf for far too long? And probably bewildered as to why the black majority were unable to summon their warrior spirit and shake off the yoke and break the shackles? In his time, non-violent struggle seemed hopeless, armed resistance proved ineffective, and political discord and fragmentation characterised the liberation movement at large. The oppressed masses seemed to have given up and resigned to their fate. He himself might have thought he had known what was plaguing his nation, and the liberation movement…it was bad leadership, the mighty arms at the disposal of the enemy, the apathy of the world, infiltrators and the list probably went on…. He was utterly confused. He must then have gone on a soul searching journey beyond the self-evident experience of oppression. And as Socrates once said ‘confusion is the beginning of wisdom [clarity]” and so finally it dawned on Biko that the battle ground was the oppressed mind and set out to ‘instill a sense of dignity’ and ‘self-empowerment’ among his people. This self-transformation was more evident in none other than Nelson Mandela himself who started as a firebrand, went to prison for life and came out not only transformed but also achieved both the morale and political high ground (even arguably liberated the oppressors’ mind). This mentality has a huge impact on the will and the capacity of SA to look forward and chart a new beginning which enabled the nation to redress past injustices, confront present challenges, and plan for a much better future.

Similarly, in his “The Burden of Freedom” Dr. Myles Munroe (2004) observed that the oppressed mind can become a serious impediment for individuals, communities, and nations. According to to him, during slavery in the US and other countries in the Caribbean, the relationship between the ‘slave’ and the ‘master’ was that the former had no ‘responsibility’, he/she lived and worked at the behest of the latter. Such was the humiliation and indignity of slavery. In this exploitative relations, the ‘master’ had the responsibility to plan for his life and his wealth (including that of his slaves). Slavery deprived its victims not only their freedom but also their mental capacity (agency). The tragedy highlighted in his observation is that the curse of the oppressed mind was evident among the slaves even after they were freed- freedom turned out to be a burden. As a result, many went back to work for their former ‘masters’ under conditions in many ways worse than when they had been slaves. Many African-Americans today face a myriad of social challenges and the ‘victim mentality’ plays its role in holding them back from seizing the opportunities they have and the freedom they gained. It is true that there are still structural challenges that discriminate, and marginalise blacks but newly arrived immigrants face the same hurdles and yet they generally do well. By taming the wrath within us comedians help us to look at our entrenched attitudes as the popular American actor and standup comedian Chris Rock reveals the very oppressed mind which is prevalent among his black compatriots. In between the barrage of expletives, Rock asks ‘who is more racist, black people or whites people?’ and then answers the question himself, “black people. You know why? we hate black people too…everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people…there is civil war going on with black people…and it is two sides…black people and niggaz…niggaz [the oppressed mind] have got to go….’ laughter follows…but the message is clear.

The reality is also evident in many formerly oppressed societies in Africa. Liberation movements mobilised their peoples against colonial rule and once independence was achieved, they were unable to use their freedom to plan ahead and shape their people’s destiny for the better. Instead, they chose to dwell on their past grievances and wasted resources and opportunities to blame the already gone adversaries- forming in the process an oppressed ‘national psyche’ (collective mindset). The post-colonial African elite maintained the colonial past as a facade for their tragic failures and boundless greed. In essence, they did not ‘free’ their people, instead they conditioned them to victimhood (oppressed mind). Through the inculcation of docility coupled with coercion, they maintain a degree of regime stability, and in most instances the ruling ‘party’ became stronger than the state instead of the reverse. Often, despite an early post-liberation honeymoon period in which energies are directed towards reconstruction and various social reforms, the movements quickly degenerate to retrenchments, stasis, corruption, and crisis. When the regimes they built began to unravel, they tend to readily and conveniently find and use ‘external forces’ to blame and through it they dispense repressive measures against anyone who challenges their rule. In this way, they wreaked havoc across the continent by turning the newly independent countries into their personal chiefdoms where they ruled with an iron fist over an already exploited and dispossessed masses and appropriated the meagre national wealth. This has always become detrimental to the overall development of these nations and the evidence is still there for all to see. The good news is that Africa is now beginning to emerge out of this tortured mentality with democratisation gaining footholds in many corners from Senegal to Tanzania, from South Africa to Tunisia and the awakening of the entrepreneurial ability of the younger generation who are taking it upon themselves to forge a new and better chapter for themselves, their households, and their nations. As a result we see signs of a more assertive and confident generation leading the way in many countries…Mash-alah! Yet, there are still many dark corners where the situation is bleaker.

NB: This is the first of a two part article, the second portion will be published next week.

About Tesfalem Araya

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  • Hope

    Selam tesfu:
    I stated the minimum facts as they should be but I choose NOT to be dragged into obsolete and rotten attitude-based debate like you just did.
    As far as the victim factor is concerned, text books could have been written as to how and who discriminated and humiliated Deki Blin in their own home and house.
    We closed that painful Chapter for the sake of Reconciliation.
    In the event, if you want to indulge into finding out about that obsolete and rotten attitude and perceptions and looking for evidence, refer to history and to your own people,who committed that “unforgivable” crimes and bigotry.
    Did I hear the term “Menshuro” nai Eritrea from somewhere?

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Selam all
    The great Muammed Ali has died. I came to know him through the urbanites (deqi-ShuQ) who joined the field in the seventies. Everyone used to talk about him. There was also this dude whom everyone seemed to know, his name was Elvis Presley, but not to the extent that they would compete for attention on who had known Ali Clay (MA) better. They would talk about MA so intimately, as if they had went on vacation with him; as if they had had a talk just the previous day. RIP. I came to know and study both of them late in my life. I have collections of Presley, and I studied MA bio, contests, interviews…his role in pushing black self-consciousness and pride higher; his clear state of mind on his countries policy in Vietnam (something he had to pay for by going to prison); and later in his life, his share of contributing peaceful dialogue between religions and cultures, and his brave battle against a devastating disease. During those days we produced many “Clays”. Individuals of principle and fierce tendency to remain independent would earn the nickname Clay. Inna Lelah wa inna Ileyh rajOun (we elong to God and to him we shall return).

  • Mehari the ferrari

    Respected Tesfalem Araya,

    I QUOTE…”For a long time now, my colleagues and I (am sure it is the same with many of you too), have been puzzled by one BIG question, why are we Eritreans (as people) unable to adequately and decisively respond to the indignity and decline we face as a nation? We wonder what has happened to the indomitable spirit of ‘ዘይተጻዓድነት’ we pride in?”.. End Of Quotation.

    One of the Eritreans that that is not puzzled..as in most cases the simplest answer is the right answer ,ofcourse I do not claim that complicated issues could be solved with a simple answer.Any ways let me give my direct answer “We tha people matured, and realized that gedli was a farce invented by Tigray tigrinyi ethnists and RabiTTa Islamiya religious zealots creating a manufactured history…. To it’s sense less credit Jebha (ELF) had reformed and was inclusive and almost free of religious differnces and regional tensions, however as the root of Gedli was not out of necessity nor for justice it was like buying snow in canada (we already had relative justice ..and on top of that gedli banditry started in september 1961,while the fedeation was disbanded in november 1962..So ,why did the banditry commence 13 monthes earlier ? And why was Eritrea not federated under Djibouti or Sudan ?..
    In short the Heroism was manufactured ,peasants’ kids were snatched from their mothers’ laps ,peasants ,the socalled were terrorized by gedli shefatu ,the socalled ‘ዘይተጻዓድነት’ was imposed on peace loving peasants who never faced atrocites by the National force until bandits started provoking the military.
    መርዓት ካብ ሕጽኖት ንእዳ መንዚዖም ግዴታኺ ኢዩ ኢሎም ኣገዲዶም ሸፋቱ ሻዕብያ ናብ ናይ ድሙ ድሙ ኣደዳ ሰውራዊ ነጻ ሩካቤ ፍትወተ ስጋ ዝ ኽዖና መሳኪን ካብ ፭ ብሄር ፯ ቆልዑ ተሰኪመን ኤርትራ ባርነት ሓቝፈን ኣብ ፩፱፱፩ ምስ ኣተዋ ር ኢናየን።ነዚ ግፍዒ እዚን ነዛ ሕጂ እውን ባባ ኢሳያስ ወያነ ስዒሩ ምስ ኢትዮጵያ ሓዊሱ ዝመርሓ ዓዲ ሂወትና ንብላሽ ከነባኽና ስለ ዘይንደሊ እዩ።

    ምስ ሙሉእ ክብረት

    መሓሪ ክቡር ከም ማኪና ፈራሪ

  • Dis Donc

    Dear folks,

    Once upon a time Eritrea fought to achieve its independence. In 1991 the people controlled its destiny and in 1993 they voted overwhelmingly to become independent. The end! Now they are independent they should mend their politics, economy and diplomacy, in a world that is more and more agressive and Darwinian. It has now been more than two decades since we last became independent but yet thausands flee and die in the deserts and highseas. While some of us cringe from such happenings, some bury their head in a mountain of zeroes, while some finger point at Etiopía, USA, UN, the devil, Jesús, etc. Have we wondered where have we gone wrong? Lets examine where we are, as a nation and communty, in terms of our political development and human capacity.

    Etiopía: besides century old grievances, the ruling party uses the very presence of Etiopía, south of its border, as a threat to its very existence. Asab being as a point of contention. Observation calls that Etiopía needs nothing from us but good neighborliness and trade. I can safely say this because Etiopía has not invaded Somalí land, Djibouti, Kenya, or Sudan for the pure annexation of its ports, yet. They gave us their blessings when we left the union. They accepted and landlocked themselves (here I wonder who trusted who, despite the many back stabbing claims). Now, why would Eritreans think that they are any different? Current Etiopía is a federal state, thus even if it annexes Asab, how will it administer it? It cannot and will not disolve its current setup for Asab alone. Even if the central government wants to the Etiopían people will not accept it. Not again! Let us just admit that we do not like Etiopía and its people; for whatever reason. Otherwise, dignified Eritreans from opposition and ruling party alike would have put in wise words when Nitric called the current PM WELAMO. Wait, STUPID WELAMO. Not even a peep! I would have shook my head and moved on, but this man is a self baptized ruling party mouth piece. And here is another one; recently a certain PFDJ supporter referred an oposition member as a son of a former Etiopian army man. What is even a shocker was the response by the accused who quickly tried to distance himself from the allegation. Be it a fact or not. I had expected a confrontational “what is wrong with that?” There you have it! But where do we go from here?

    USA or other international org: in this day and age; intelligence, careful awareness, political shrewdness, and hard work make one respected, and revered for alliances. We live in a Darwinian, dog eat dog, world. Within this harsh world there are rules and regulations where nations and individuals can employ, the aforementioned qualities, to prosper and attain peace. Of the 200+ countries in the world, most chose to abide by these rules and the USA is happily trading with them. The USA or the rest do not pick and choose who to abuse and who to leave alone. Most of you here live and work in the US, peacefully and happily, but you had a humble beginnings from Eritrea. The US government did not pick on you for having Eritrean beginning. Why would PFDJ tries hard to make it look otherwise? Or why try hard to sound like Eritreans are of some sort of lofty race? As current realities stand modern states are molded and attained by their economic participation in the world market. In fact those of PFDJ supporters are in the US (other western states) for pure economic benefit. You could not achieve this in your country. Thus, your country failed you by its economy, useless passport, educación, democratic governance, rule of law, etc. Nobody else has taken Eritreaness out of you. But your country did that to you. In short, Eritrea failed to be a modern state with a backward politics of medieval like. Sadly, however, some us are happy with it.

    • Hope

      Dear xxxxxxx [Dis Donc]:
      Were you under an influence when you wrote the above comment or some one has stolen your nick?
      No worries bro,Eritrea will have enough concerned and responsible Citizens ,not gypsies!

      Let the gypsies do whatever they want to ,but Eritrea and ERITREANS will reclaim what belongs to them soon!
      Ezi Ewin kihalif Eyyu!

      And we will write back to you on Golden Letters the exact opposite of what your wrote since Eritrea shall be the most envied Nation and its Passport shall be the most valued and respected one very soon.

      • Dis Donc

        Dear Hope
        That was me but no other. Your response is nothing but a primordial politics in display. These are my observations right from this very website. The mature and civil thing to do would have been for you to prove me wrong. However, you had to display your ugly instinct and of course this site allows, encourages and supports this kind of act. As for the envy thing, as it stands it could only come from remittances ….

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Girmay,

    Identity and border are two different things. Politically, identity is the state of being the same as described. Fore instance being an inhabitant of Eritrea makes you an Eritrean expressed and exhibited in the charactrestics within that group.

    Border is either an imaginary or real geographic demarcation lines that define state and nation-states for political administration purposes. So terms and names are created to serve for certain defined purposes.

    regards,
    Amanuel Hidrat

  • Nitricc

    Abi and his Anti Eritrean wanna be people think Eritreans are racist and the worst people who ever exist. In fact there are the Egptions who call the Ethiopians monkeys and all Africans dogs and slaves; none of you say Shiiii. I understand you have to come down on this brave people and nation. Here is what your master Arabs told you to your face; at the UN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    “Egyptian Minister calls Sub-Saharan Africans “dogs and slaves” now what do you call that Ras Abi? I am just mad the minister forgot to add “monkeys” their fev word.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Hi Nitrickay,

      You are uttering the same thing what you possibly (may be inaccurate) quoted from the Egyptian minister. You are approving his remark except he did not add “monkey ” to include in his bigotry. Bigotry is the expression of racism and hence you are the symptom of our ills. Can you notice that.

    • kazanchis

      man, why do you single out Ethiopia in here? That lunatic diplomat referred to Africans in general. Are you any different in the eyes of this diplomat? BIG No! Whatever that man says doesn’t matter as an Ethiopian we are having the last laugh as we have reached 70% of GERD. That’s our middle finger to him.

    • Abi

      Hi General Nitricc
      I have said enough about the Egyptians. It is your turn to wake up from your coma and observe.
      Guess who was the right hand to the Egyptians when they attack Ethiopia?
      They can give us any deragotary name. It is us the slaves and monkeys who should stand against them in unison.Unfortunately some shortsighted zombies stood with them.
      Slave Tirayilka!

      • Nitricc

        Abi; I didn’t know the Egyptians attacked Ethiopia. I know they will! They are just waiting till the dam to near completion but never knew they already did. So, who was their right hand when they attacked you? Speaking of an attack by Egypt; I don’t think they need much. Your Air force is completely dismantled and destroyed. Once the fearsome and powerful Ethiopian air force under General MerEid; now is under 3rd grader Adem; who never flown any jet in his life is your commander of the Air force. At least Molla; the previous air force commander had 3 hours flight time under flight instructor and he was educated till 5th grade, compare that with General MerEid who was educated in British, American and Sweden air forces.
        So, if I were you I will not utter any negative words against Egypt. You have nothing to defend your self. So, be nice to them Abi.

        • Nitricc,
          We know that you have always been dreaming not only when the Egyptian airforce will attack the GERD, but also the day when you would be riding at the head of a column of Egyptian tanks to show them the ins and outs of the country in which you once lived. That is where you believe you will receive the title of a real general. The irony is that while your hope for Egyptian invasion of Ethiopia grows by the day, the strength of the Egyptian economy to carry out a distant war is decreasing at the same rate. The best they can do is for some scared Egyptian pilots to drop some bombs, which of course does not mean the end of history. Short of occupying Ethiopia, there is nothing Egypt can do; and that will not happen in a thousand years.

          Sudan has turned its back on Egypt, because she knows that the GERD is more important to Sudan than it is to Ethiopia. Live with it; the dam is going to be completed, and your DIA will be forced to buy electricity from Ethiopia to solve the problem of frequent electricity outages; or you have to live with shortage of electricity and continued economic stagnation .
          Do you care? I doubt it.

          • Saleh Johar

            Dear Horizon,

            Please stay away from this snobbish debate going on between Abi and Nitricc. There is no substance in there but hate, hate, and more hate and prejudice. Let them fight it out, if prejudice can be senselessly (and tastelessly) fought out at all. They have equal arguments. I beg you to stay away from it.

          • Nitricc

            Hey SJ; i disagree with your characterization. My people and country was labeled as racists and bigots and I am arguing who the real racists and bigots are. The Arabs are not only taking their resources but dehumanizing them to no end. Instead of standing them to the real racist and bigots; they all came down to lable the proud people of Eritrea as such. don’t you think there is a point to make in here?

          • Saleh Johar

            Nitriccs,

            I have read your comments for over a decade and I know where you stand and what you are saying–and I only react when I see not only hyperbole, but an exaggeration of it (if there is such an expression).

            You claim that the commander of the Ethiopian Airforce has only 3 hours of flight under his belt and you lose all rationality. Check Abi’s argument, Eritreans did nothing but only followed orders from the Egyptians. See how he helplessly tries to diminish the heroic Eritrean struggle? Now, see if you can find any difference between your irrational argument and his his equally irrational argument. That is why I suggested the rest of us watch while you spill your irrationality and hate for all readers to be disgusted–but no thanks for both of you.

            Cheers

          • Dear SJG,

            Awate.com is your brain child and it is dear to you. I would like to add that it is an example of a success story despite all the problems of accommodating divergent ideas, personalities and situations. It is home to many of us. We are indebted to this website; at least I feel this way. It is my wish it remains the place where ideas are born, shaped and matured with one purpose only, healing the wounds and bringing peace between the two people.

            Sometimes we are overwhelmed and we regress to the logic of an eye for an eye, which continues to keep us blind, and we see that the divide remains as wide as it has always been. I hope that we will all overcome our emotions and we will have a duel of ideas and not a duel of personalities.
            Regards.

          • Abi

            Selam Horizon
            Bringing peace and healing the wounds will be achieved only when notable writers stop agitating and keep the wounds afresh. That has been my stand forever. Preaching peace and friendship doesn’t make a dent if we go around and write volumes to remind the old and the young how bad things were under different rulers .
            The unintended consequences of these books outweigh their advantages. They breed more hate and animosity. I see these books as sound and visual effects of a horror movie. The effects outlast all of us. What is worse is we are keeping them in our bookshelves for the next generation.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Abi,
            Indeed I agree with you. We have to burn all the books about slavery in the USA, including the Kunta Kinte series. No one wants to learn the Roots. All Malcolm X, Lincoln, MLK and others struggles should be erased. Damn, they remind people of how bad it was. I totally agree with you on the project of erasing memories and then installing new software. Good thinking.

          • Abi

            Selam Ato Saleh
            Do you think the books written about slavery is to widen the animosity between the two races?
            What you are doing is freshening the wounds.
            By the way , you are known for burning books. Why is it new for you now? Burn the damn books . Good idea.
            MLK was a dreamer, a visionary. Not an archive of suspicion and hate. If you are fighting for peace and good neighborliness, your book is pointing the opposite direction.
            I say we need a fresh start with new people. The old ones put us in this mess, I don’t expect them to rescue us. Sorry.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Abi
            I admire your “Chole” attitude. With enough people falsifying our history, and their belligerent attitude, more is needed to counter it. Imagine how many books were written to make Eritreans appear as servants of the “Arabs”? How many bigoted literature (government sponsored) were spread to poison the minds of many (you included) ? Memories will never be erased they just need to be given context.

            See! You still repeat what you hear, without context, “…you are known for burning books”!!! Only the shallow can repeat such stuff arrogantly, so sure of themselves. Remember how you pestered Ammanuel, simply because he said he was struggling to unseat the ancien regime of Haile Sellassie? You wouldn’t let go, relentlessly attacking him. Do you expect him to apologize for fighting against a feudal king who wipes out his own people? But then, Janhoi was not a single entity, he had all the feudal class to assist him.

            I am doe Abi. Please continue your hypocritical debate with Nitricc, he fits you as adversary. Me? I do not have the equal of your fake outrage for what the wenbedie probably did to your estate . Damn shaabiya and weyane, they disrupted the statuesque.

            Cheers

          • Abi

            Selam Ato Saleh
            You are indeed showing your maturity by calling me shallow , hypocrite and arrogant.

            Nobody is falsifying your history. It can’t be folsifiyed further. I mean it was false to start with. I guess you need to write more and more of the same kind to stay in par with the number of Eritreans who are now convinced that your struggle was not for their benefit.

            Finally, the TegenTay Wenbedewoch brought me independence.
            Yeqenyeley to all wenbedewoch!!!!

          • Saleh Johar

            Selam Abi,

            Apologies if you felt offended by a few words though you piled on our entire nation a million times more vile words and insults. At any rate, from here on, please deal with Nitricc, I give him a full delegation to represent me–only when he deals with you.

            Thanks again

        • Abi

          Hi General Nitricc
          The Egyptians are smart enough to send their surrogates to fight us. They know their lives are very important to waste. Why not send someone who thinks his life is worthless instead? It is cheaper to use some Akorbajoch.

    • Berhe Y

      Hi Nitricc,

      When the Egyptian made those comments, I think it includes you (Eritrea) as well. So I think in the case you should be with Ethiopians and the other Africans iin condemning Egypt as well.

      At least those other countries are doing something about it, asking him to apologize and own his words, and Eritrea should join the officially.

      Berhe

  • ibrahim

    [from the moderator: Begin your comments with salutation to avoid the penalty: deletion of your comments]

  • Nitricc

    Tesfalem; I am an avid African critic but you can’t have it both ways…
    “Liberation movements mobilised their peoples against colonial rule and once independence was achieved, they were unable to use their freedom to plan ahead and shape their people’s destiny for the better. Instead, they chose to dwell on their past grievances and wasted resources and opportunities to blame the already gone adversaries-“
    Your take is misleading and incorrect. First, most African countries didn’t achieve their freedom by using force; they were simply awarded their independence by their European masters. So, what the colonialists did was leave in a front door and come-back through the windows and made what is Africa today. Africans are too dumb to understand and figure out the trick of their masters. Every African leader who had a little swag and who opposed the interferences of the Europeans was hunted one by one. Even the idea of self-reliance didn’t come with PIA; there were many African leaders who have initiated the idea and paid for it with their lives. Accordingly; I sense a bit of hypocrisy in your article. In one hand, you are criticizing the Africans for failing to achieve anything and on the other hand you are opposing the Eritrean leader for taking the initiatives to correct what other Africans failed to do. say what you will; the greatest showdown between Eritrea and the rest of the west is Eritrea refused to bend for the west and standing up for the west has a steep price to pay in which Eritrea is doing so. It is confusing understanding the mind set of Africans; in one hand, they complained that Africa failed miserably and at the same time they oppose who tried to correct the reason for the miserable failure. Is not what PIA is trying to do and you are opposing him? Very confusing!!!!

  • Dear Guest,

    When TPLF and EPLF reached Addis and Asmara respectively in 1991, they had the same mind-set. Then, their itinerary differed in direction. EPLF/PFDJ went completely in the wrong direction, while TPLF, forced by the situation on the ground had to change course and work with the other Ethiopian parties. One can see the difference in the outcome of things in both countries. While I do not trust any political party, including of course TPLF, nevertheless, I do not think that the people of Tigray are brainwashed and follow TPLF blindly. Therefore, TPLF has no choice but to work within the Ethiopian society. Unfortunately, democracy has still to be won in Ethiopia.

    • Guest

      Dear Horizon
      Tplf never changed you can see that from it’s supporters but the change you see in ethiopia now is because of the other 3 party’s in the gov

  • Ambassador

    Dear tes,

    Racism and bigotry are our conundrums. It will take time before we start to focus on the sameness of human beings. The point is, we have to constantly watch our day-to-day utterances for they have meanings that can amply be described as bigotry. Discrimination is a fact of life; it will stay as long as humans are in existence. The problem arises when it blinds you to the point that you couldn’t able to see your killer. That is the contemporary condition of Eritreans.

    You see, we Eritreans restrain ourselves from revolting, from defying authority, from saying enough because its possible result-“a chaotic Eritrea”- wouldn’t look good on us. It is as though we are in a constant stress of impressing someone through our “peaceful coexistence” or in stress of maintaining ourselves above a certain threshold (like the situation in Ethiopia-be it famine or violent street demonstration). See, we compare ourselves with Ethiopia too much and feast on their domestic problems for it makes us look good. While we keep on hating, we remain oblivious to the fact that we are being murdered by our junta on a daily basis. There you have it: the turning of LBJ’s theory on the lowest white man into a material force in Eritrea.

  • des

    This is such a wonderful article.

    I highlight below my opinion on how we got crushed after independence. Oppressed and brainwashed society does not being change that quick. Slavery, colonization, apartheid, racism were known by the oppressed when they have started but they took century and decades to defeat them. Below is my take on the ignorance and cultural change brought by Shaibia that facilitate to destroy Eritrea. There is too much lack of knowledge and suppression which are difficult to over take them that quickly. We need to match to the tactics of the oppressors to free ourselves and others.

    Here is my note.

    Our attitude determines the destination

    During our long and tortuous history, our attitude made us win, and it made us lose. We feel both the successes and the losses deep in our hearts.

    At the beginning, it was difficult not to trust Eritreans pride; all stories were believed and miraculous. If I think of it now, what a brainwash that was installed by EPLF.

    But slowly, slowly we began to detect contradictions between our hopes and dreams and the reality in front of us. All progress toward democracy and freedom was crushed and the control of Eritreans has take a different dimension with an absolute cruelty and dictatorship.

    In a short time, the EPLF destroyed Eritreans culture of care, trust, generosity and dialogue. They installed a new culture of ignorance and fear. The obedient culture of Eritrea was abused for greed and power. Saying “No” for any government plan has become a “crime”. “Yes” saves any trouble and becomes the only option to exist in Eritrea.

    Incommunicado prisons mushroomed everywhere in Eritrea. This was a very weird cultural change brought by Shabia (EPLF) because to visit a prisoner and offer sympathy and courage has always been a daily duty and our cultural comfort and part of our daily prayer.

    Today, with so many Eritreans leaving, many the countries are fed up with us and want to close their doors in our face. But we were not born to be refugees; our parents love us and never dreamed for us to leave our homes.

    Eritrea has become lawless, as a whole generation has grown up without the rule of law or a working constitution. It is not surprising that we cannot unite anymore. We never had a chance to experience the power of law and constitution to dare do well as a unified people.

    But it is not enough to complain. We need to do something about it, and the change that is required has to come from us. We have to reawaken the attitude that brought our nation independence and take charge of our own destiny.

    We did it once—we can do it again, if we believe in ourselves.

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Tesfalem,
    Thank you for posting this well-written and, in my opinion, relevant article. I can understand from the substance and style that you have given the subject the time and thought it required. In my opinion, this can be a challenge to our educated elite to look at the socio-historical traits that our people‘s (one component could differ from the other) psyche features in their interaction with conditions that face them in life. Like many readers for sure do, I await to read the next part.

  • Guest,
    Racism in the third world is much more the result of ignorance than anything else. If 6m people feel racially superior to 90m people, and continue to act as such, the consequences of such behavior will be grave for everybody. It is the responsibility of all ethnic groups in Ethiopia to understand and act accordingly that each ethnic group is simply part of the whole (Ethiopia), nothing more and nothing less. The fight for democracy is a continuous struggle, and we see signs of this struggle going on in Ethiopia.

  • said

    Dear Ambassador and Ethiopian alike greeting to you all. Had Eritrea succeeded peacefully with right to be independent nation ,we would Not be here today .

    For most Eritreans didn’t see why the internal Eritrean affairs and the right to seek independence from Ethiopia of our country were not internal Ethiopian’s business to begin with . Agree with us or you don’t, but that’s why they struggled for independence and hated Ethiopian colonizer.

    My point is not that Eritrea is morally superior to the Ethiopia. It isn’t. However, if you want to understand why so many Eritrean loathe Ethiopia, you have to understand how we see you. Whether you agree is irrelevant. Nor does it matter whether our grievances are factual to you .It it may not matter to you. The 30 year long war took its tools on our people, that tiny Ethiopian elite disproportionate wealthy, powerful and privileges – and influence rested in the hand of tiny backward feudal society …, After all, these are individuals who have prospered, achieved high status and occupied the highest positions of prestige and responsibility.

    They parrot the policies of the monarchy Ethiopia and the way they saw it Eritrean struggle for independence , as a meritorious crusade against Arab invasion, but to the most Eritrean involved, an inexplicable bombardment of civilian and widespread devastation meted out in their home, town and city decimated across Eritrea and merciless attack that killed their fathers and mothers ,sisters , brothers and children. That was maintained by the killing machine by Ethiopian armies, for so long? But every life matters, seeking a new life for themselves safe from violence and bombardment .And the result of savagery many Eritrean refugee still are languishing in Sudan and with little hope on day to return to their father land , during those 30 years ,it is a place where no one can live peacefully . They had come to that conclusion slowly and surely , in the face of existential fear and uncertainty, they eventually find out that they have nowhere to go back home to, but to remain in refugee camp in Sudan, and today Eritrean youth desperately trying to flee their country from doctorial regime.

    Eritreans mostly usually see their own virtues and the warts of Ethiopians. The small sliver country have being bulldozed and bullied for long time by Ethiopia, colonialism, domination and conquest left deep scare in our people ,Yes People detest condescension. You may say. They are only human .We are all prone to err. Yes, yes, some of that isn’t fair. You may say historically inaccurate, decontextualized, and grossly over simplified account that took place. For the vast majority Ethiopian they were bystanders and not wilful complicity with evil. I am not lecturing anyone on morality. Nor i am demanded a more compassionate response to situation and crisis Eritrean peopled faced and continue to face . But try not defend the indefensible Ethiopian aggression .

    But who tells the Ethiopian people’s truth? The large vast majority were not informed, fearful and law-abiding and subservient citizens knew little about “what went on out there in field of the war in Eritrea.” What we think they knew, they’ve been taught by decades of Ethiopian radio propaganda and fictional fear mongering .The Ethiopia TV news controlled and sponsored by state Power, become so twisted and falsified in the sense of not representing anything close to the fact and the truth and its commentators and pundits on the airwaves, produced “ false news” fiction stories and war was presented and disclosed in the name of the fight of the good against (WANBEDH) evil Eritrean , It creates and produces a binary world of good and evil. They manipulate their feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness of the mass . Those who spoke its truth are banished and where to be seeing from. They are condemned as sell-out and traitors or “anti-Ethiopian.” various other offspring of Power linked to his majesty Haile Selassie, Members of the political barbaric culture, Bourgeois society, the landlord neofeudal society is by design and military supremacy of its cruel inhuman armed forces that knew how to make annihilation, devastation, degeneration and indiscriminate slaughter and the cries of his majesty victim and his empire’s victims never to be heard and be seeing . The crimes that his regime committed were rendered invisible. The millions of Young men unable to find work, were used as cannon fodder. —and the so called the intelligent people identify with their narrow national patriotism and tribal identity , while the country was suffering crippling economy ,famine and the vast underclass trapped in menial, dead-end jobs and facing mounting internal repression for generation and that God has blessed king above other and he represent the highest form of ancient Ethiopian civilization, and righteous king on earth ,his Majesty imperialism were based on a system of power and dominance, the elite academics are all hatched from the same political womb and political culture . And hegemony politics has diseased the womb. They were indebted to Power and become the servants of Power the late King. Dictatorial Power that did not and does not serve the need of the people. Power serves its elite members and itself. And only the personal needs of those who make up part and parcel of power. That desire and craves to dominate other human beings including subjecting their own people. The political class, dances to the tune played by these feudal oligarchs and war machine militarists. While keeping subjugated populations impoverished by his imperial corrupt and brutal regimes. The masters of savage war are the scum of the earth and indiscriminate violence that have being falling in Eritrea for some time.

    The 30 years had been the bloody subjugation and atrocities committed – treating Eritrean people with violence and death and cruel and inhumane treatment. And the plundering and massive murder of Eritreans took place in brooder day light. Ethiopian colonialism that ravaged the country is as a direct result of the impact of colonialism and the ceaseless massacres of conquest. Who really cares about what happened to the people of Eritrea you may. These helpless, often nameless wretches. As we all know Eventually it happened to oppressor and those associated them, the top political elite were eliminated and murdered by the very same state gun they once they served in hands of the codetta regime of Mengusto red terror .

    the defeat of the Ethiopian colonizer and end of their bloody chapter .

    • Abi

      Hi Said
      This is exactly what the author tried to convey. A victim mentality. Tired of it. I stopped reading halfway. It is the usual zibazinke expected from a brain washed person. Nothing new.
      I bet you thousands of Eritreans write the same zibazinke just as you did word for word. Reason? You all read from the same book, you write the same fictional stories, you listen the same story as a nursery song loaded with hate …nothing new.
      What is new is the gradual extinction of your people while you are busy doing what you do best. 24/7/365 guayla.
      Move on. The world is not revolving around you.

      • Hope

        xxxx Abi;
        But you know the fact and the truth though–while doing guayla 24/7,they have shown to you their unparalleled mightiness…and just give them some time and they will repeat that same history.
        The last poisonous weapon /ditch of the enemy is the COIE—but so what?
        It will only strengthen Eritrea.
        Yes -we are MOVING ON,even faster than expected —after surviving the seemingly UNsurvivable tsunami..against all ODDs!
        Watch- 2016 is going to be another September 1 for the second Marathon.
        The temporary hiccups will be left over-behind our back.
        “Weyyo neti natten ghedifensi nay enda hammaten”..Check with your sis Rahwa or Hayat Adem for the “Lost in Translation”.
        did you listen to Guad Dawit Wedlegherghis on ESAT.
        Please pray hard to God that the remaining Mamma estopia will remain intact or give PIA a chance to intervene to keep it intact as he did from 1991-1997.

        • Abi

          Hope Nebsi
          You are doing what you do best!
          Hoping and hopping!

          • Hope

            Selam Abi:
            Yes Guad (xxx xxxxx xxxx)
            .
            Where there is no HOPE and Love,there cannot be Peace at all.
            Hopping?
            Yes,indeed,Eritrea is hopping slowly but surely will get to the Promised Land.

    • Hope

      Abshirka Ya Ustaz Said.
      Well said,big Bro!
      Forget these lost souls and tell them to mind their god-damn business and advise them to save their 18 Million dying poor people. rather than gossiping and regurgitation old stuff.
      Eritreans are who they are and their history and their experience made them to be who they are…and they can, and will handle their own problems.
      Feddel Ya Huna for a Double Berad Shai misil Shehanfula!

  • Ambassador

    Dear Girmay,

    Exactly my point. I must have you in mind when I wrote the above comment. People like you, when they even try to sound wise, still fall to the foolishness of nationalism for they function within a frame of us vs them. How can you call shaming and naming an entire group of people just because subsequent Ethiopian rulers “come to your land to take something that belongs to you” legitimate? Where is the universal value of celebrating humanity when you ask me to hang myself for I have a different opinion than that of yours? Are you another dictator in the making? How do you intend to defeat a dictator while acting and thinking like him?

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Tesfalem,

    Excellent article. Thank you and look forward to read your part-II.

    Revards,
    Amanuel Hidrat

  • Ambassador

    Brother Tesfalem,

    You asked “…, why are we Eritreans unable …to respond to the indignity…we face as a nation?” This is a $60,000 question. I’ll tell you why, but let me quote you LBJ first. He was an awful president, but don’t mind his awfulness. He said:

    “If you can convince the lowest white man that 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 even empty his pockets for you.” -Lyndon B. Johnson

    See, two facts about us become instantly obvious through this quote: 1st we are racists (the lowest of the lowest) and 2nd we are made to believe that we are way better than Agame (Ethiopians). These make us oblivious to everything done to us, including loss of dignity and life.

    We are a strange kind of racists. We even celebrate identity (the fact that we have a nation) for its mere purpose of being an effective marker that separates us from them, Ethiopians. The sum total of the 30-years struggle, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, displacement of millions of people etc. is reduced to this marker called Eritrea. We are now Eritreans-let’s celebrate, we say!?!? You know what is more strange; we think that we are different from Ethiopians or Sudanese or any other Africans just because we happen to be born inside a boarder left to us by Europeans. We say, “look those agames (it used to be Adgi Amharu), how destitute and trash looking they are, God, we are way better than them”-then who care about freedom and democracy as long as we maintain that twisted superior status.

    See; that identity we celebrate dearly is inherently incriminatory and hateful. It has to find an enemy (a binary opposite) to stay meaningful. The binary opposite of eritreanism was “Adghi Amharay”, now it is “qondaf agame”. In conclusion, until we start to celebrate humanity and love, we will remain under the shackles of Isaias. Mark my words. We will also need both therapy and a paradigm shift in our worldview.

    • Abi

      Hello Kibur Ambassador
      This kind of commitment comes only from someone with a diplomatic immunity.
      If I may add to your beautiful comment, I would say the whole BS of Eritrean Independence struggle was not for the benefit of Eritreans.
      I blame, as always, the urban mass mobilization experts for misleading and recruiting the youth in the name of self determination leading to self extinction.

      • Dis Donc

        Derasiw abinet,

        You shouldn’t let past hapennings affect your thought process. Having said that, I agree with your mom, but from the human side of it. You should heed her advice. That has been the mistakes of successive Ethiopian leadership. You should not and cannot keep someone against his will.

    • Dis Donc

      Dear Ambesa,
      I almost gave up on this site thinking that I was the only who thinks the way you wrote.

      • Nitricc

        Hi DD so, is that safe to assume that you share the belief that you are better than the Ethiopians? if not, how could you agree with this garbage and outdated take of this loser? DD, you can’t have it both ways; which one is it? in case this is 2016 and only a person of low life creature thinks better than any other human being.

        • Dis Donc

          Dear Nit,
          I am going to reply to you on Saturday, please hang in there.

    • Dear Ambassador,

      It is really great to see that there are Eritreans who have the courage to tell the plain truth with such courage and clarity. People were lured by the Pied Pipers, lied to and made sacrificial lambs. This is not going to stop until the country loses all its people, and they are left with the land only. Why this culture of arrogance and superiority complex, coupled with the love for sacrifice and indifference to their home-grown tormentors, on the side of the people; and why such callousness and pathological love for POWER, to the extent that the ruling Eritrean elites and their supporters have inhumanly used the people for their unholy purpose, is difficult to understand.

      • Nitricc

        Horizon; he told you what you believe; huh? it must be true that you people are suffering from deep inferior complexity. must be! if not, you should have offended by this garbage take.

        • Nitricc,
          Ambassador has the audacity of telling the plain truth; the truth any rational and unbiased person should have, if he truly loves his people. Instead of trying to make him look an outcast, use him as the mirror with which you see your true selves, for the sake of your people and the people of the whole region, if you care, which I doubt.

          If independence, peace and hard work were all you dreamt for, you wouldn’t have started wars with all the countries around you soon after your independence, and you (we) would have all been much better than what we are today, economically, in HDI, …name it. You had the arrogance of thinking of ruling the whole region. Instead of building the country, you went on a spree of destroying it by starting wars with everybody around you. Now, you are at war against the whole world, because in the quixotic world you live, you believe that the whole world is against you.
          The problem is that you do not care for the reality on the ground, and you continue to live in the imaginary world you have created for yourselves in your minds at a very expensive cost for the Eritrean people, because it does not affect you at all.

          • Nitricc

            Horizon; still you are not getting it. I am suggesting for you not only to reject such garbage comment but to be outraged and offended by it. He is reviling his deep believe that he is better than you and he is to telling you in a classic RP way; sadly you are misinterpreting his cowardly stupid and offensive comment in to heroism.
            I bet he is a history major.

            “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”

    • said

      Hi Ambassador . AS A groups Eritrean are one of the most sensitive to any remote trace of racism. I know well from my side of community and my country men .The clear majority of Eritrean don’t share political extreme position on all things , those who are conscience and live by sense of honor. If you take politics out .you will find many Eritrean have many good character and quality identified with , kind, hospitable, integrity, compassion and reasoned convictions, wisdom and prudence, trustworthiness, a commitment to the moral good. They live by inherent dignity and worth. They truly follow justice and justice alone.

      Your character is antithetical to many of the qualities of good many Eritreans. Yes some Eritrean feel increasingly powerless, beaten down, aggrieved and under attack and are filled with anger and grievances are easily exploited. You must be concerned not condemning ,try to picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity ,survival and advancement and where everyone has a list of grievance is suffering from. yes you will find Eritrean unprincipled and proudly ignorant. Those idiotic incite ugly passions, stoke resentments and divisions, and create fear of those who are not like “ nuso and us” But it will not end there. They never stop. There will always be fresh targets to attack .today many Eritrean are deeply concerned and ask What has happened to us . the Eritrean love of humanism, the struggle for champion of human rights at home and everywhere is wellknoun , the struggle for the dream of democracy and freedom and individual freedom will continue one-way or another

      • Ambassador

        Dear Said:

        You said “Eritrean[s] have many good character[s] and quality[ies] identified with , kind, hospitable, integrity, compassion and reasoned convictions, wisdom and prudence, trustworthiness, a commitment to the moral good. They live by inherent dignity and worth”. So do Ethiopians, Sudanese, Americans, etc… Then again, what about those Eritreans who have not all these qualities? Where is the humbleness in calling yourself all that? Don’t you think it is a bit weird….

        When you attribute the set of qualities you mentioned above as exclusively Eritrean or you say it as though we are nothing but these qualities, it mounts to bigotry and racism. I wonder which ethnic group in Ethiopia you had in mind as antithetical to what is Eritrean when you gave me this laundry list.

        • Berhe Y

          Dear Ambassador,

          I think Said response to your comment was very mature, measured and very positive. You started by putting us Eritreans as being the most racist (lowest of the low) and he said and told you is that we actually are NOT and instead focused on all the positive side of Eritreans.

          For example we have been migrating for over a 100 years now, to anywhere in the world because we were never been able to settle peacefully in our land. And throughout our history, we have never been victimized, hated, discriminated against, or become a threat to anyone. Be it in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Europe, North America. With the exception of Israel (that we hear recently) we have never been on any news of anything negative. I can say the same about Ethiopia as well.

          But if Said had focused on Eritrean, because it’s Eritreans who are the subject of your insults. So why then you ask how about Ethiopians, Sudanese or Americans..you are not insulting the Sudanese, the Americans or the Ethiopians by saying they are the lowest of the lowest type of people.

          Tezariboy yezarubuka emo, tezaraby yigebruka eyu natka neger.

          As far as our struggle for justice and self determination is no different that the struggle the weyane did during the 40s and the struggle the TPLF did during the 70s. So what was the reason for the Tigray people to struggle against the Amharu rulers? Is it the color of their eye? It’s justice, simple and ours is no different. Just because our faith had turned upside down without liberator turned dictator, does not mean that our national struggle was because of hating others.

          What LBJ said may be valid for American white men and against the black men, but are you truly believe there is a comparison how an Eritrean feels towards an Ethiopian?

          Thank you Said, well done. Please write more.

          Berhe

          • said

            Thank you Berhe.

    • Tesfalem

      Dear Ambassador

      Thanks for reading and commenting. True it is a $60 000 question….perhaps ‘a million dollar question’ (for emphasis…))) First you mentioned an interesting concept/aspect, ‘racism’. I have never read any work which factored racism and its impact in our society, aside from the Italian segregation. In any case, I don’t think racism or ‘strange’ racism (I thought racism does not have degrees….) is a viable path to explain our relations with our neighbours, be it Ethiopia or Sudan. How can one hate their own race? If I am not second-guessing you, maybe you wanted take the ‘nationalism’ or ‘ultra-nationalism’ or even ‘fascism’ as a variable in your analysis, no? If yes am ready to indulge. It is futile to dismiss Eritrea for becoming a nation – we are not unique, just a pixel in the ‘nation-state’ portrait of the world- it is called ‘fait accompli’. With regard to our prejudices….while they are not unique to us (no need to go farther, they exist in every society including that of our neighbours) but the question should be why do we have intense prejudices against Ethiopia in particular? Is it our bloody historical relations or is it something else? Finally, I think you touched a nerve (in relation to the article) when you said “that identity we celebrate dearly is inherently incriminatory and hateful.” First of all ‘identity’ or ‘national identity’ is a social construct and there is nothing inherent about it- so it can be hateful or incriminatory as you alluded and if it is then it applies to all the national identities. My argument in the article is there has been a deliberate act of ‘conditioning’ of the Eritrean society, as you might got a sense from the first part and more closely in the second part.

      • Saleh Johar

        Hello Tesfalem,

        You article provides another perspective in the understanding of the topic.

        Racism and bigotry should not be tolerated for any reason. However, I see what can be termed as negative bigotry (in the old days they called it hypocrisy) and that is when people want to be as hyper-nationalists as human;y possible yet they try to deny others the choice of being normal patriots. While every nation has its share of bigots, hypocrites, and fascists, even a fascist would deny he is a fascist. All fascists in history recognize their actions as a clean act of patriotism; it is those on the receiving end who know it’s fascism.

        In our case, I think our region is inflicted with huge dozes of prejudice. Sometimes it is not even with ill intention, but a second-nature of people that can be peeled off with socio-economic development, mainly education. Traditionally, it can be ameliorated when people know each other through proper channels, not feel-good political statements.

      • Ambassador

        Dear Tesfalem,

        I beg to differ with your response to my comment. For the following reasons:

        1. Yes, you can be racist towards your own race. There is a concept called cultural hybridity, which is applicable when the colonized takes on the culture of the colonizer that in a sort creates him/her as a “grotesque” version of the colonizer. Being racist against your own race will then come with that package.

        2. Your polemics aside, yes our racism is strange (the closest prefix that explains our kind of racism, or the nuances of our racism if you will). See, our racist attitude towards others is not based on skin color. It is based on a boarder left to us by colonialists. That boarder gives us sense of uniqueness upon which we legitimize our exercise of prejudice towards others. You can call it boarder-line racism. It doesn’t change its strangeness.

        3. Your understanding of social construction is, at best, shaky. I think, the meaning of the concept is interfering with your understanding of the concept. Just so you know, social constructs are also created concepts to which inherence can be attributed. I think you seem understand social construction to mean something not of nature. That is not a proper way of understanding it. For example; the physical tree exists in nature. But the fact that we use the word “tree” to signify it is a social construction. Whomever creates that word may have an inherent reason for it.

        4. Nation as a source of national identity and nation-state are two different concepts. Eritrea is not a nation-state. We do not have one culture, language and religion. If I am not mistaken, Somalia is the only nation-state in Africa. So, the nation-stateness of Eritrea is not ‘fiat accompli’. But I see how that concept of “Eritrean uniqueness” is interfering with your thinking.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Selam Ambassador, Tesfalem & Saleh,

          I am closely following your very interesting debates about racism, Bigotry, nation, and nation-state. On all the aforementioned issues, I tend to agree with Ambassador. Let me give you my take: Racism has existed throughout history. One of the characteristics of racism is categorizing group of people or nations as inferior. This attitude has been existing in Eritrea especially in the highland of Eritrea – taking themselves as “unique” compared not only to our neighbors but also to the rest of our social groups. Irrespective its intensity, and without comparing to other nations and nation-states, racism do exist in our Eritrea. Racism is expressed by bigotry, stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Who sane and rationale Eritrean will tell me that we do not exhibit these expressions in our conversations with each other or with our neighbor countries? Let us not dismiss the existence of racism in Eritrea.

          Second, “a nation ” consists of distinct population of people that are bound together by common culture, history, and tradition, and which are concentrated within specific geographic region. A nation is “Biher” in our cultural language. Hence a nation-state is a sovereign state inhabited by a homogeneous people who share the same history, tradition, and language. A nation-state is a sovereign state of one homogeneous people. Djibouti is a good example of that. Eritrea is “a state” of multi-ethnics (nationalities) while Ethiopia is “a state” of multi-nations and nationalities. The concept of state, nation, nation-state, country, nationalities must be understood clearly to help us in our deliberation when we debate in our politics.

          regards
          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Nitricc

            Hey Aman-H we are watching too. when Mahmuday generalized; you were all up in arms going banana. yet when the dude named by ambasder generalizes and insult the entire Eritreans; you are all giddy and dandy. what does that say to your credibility and reputation? it is well documented your love with the Tigryans and that is your right but to do so at the expense of your credibility is a sad day. when it comes to character and virtu; one can’t pick and choose. You ought it to your quality of character and communal duty to call a spade is a spade.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selmat Nitrickay,

            There is no generalization in my comment. It is specific and straight forward. If you have an argument against my specific critic you are welcome. Take the following into consideration: None generalization does not mean equating to a 100% accuracy. Social science by its nature is not. All the indicators of racism such as prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, bigotry, and superiority attitude are there and alive even social group to social group within our society. Can I be more clearer than this? In short the Eritrean politics is contaminated with those bad attitudes. Look to yourself and your comment before even you try to respond.

          • Nitricc

            Hey Aman-H I didn’t say you generalized anything. What I said was; you and Ismail were up in arms when you guys thought Mahmuday generalized in his article. Yet, when the dude by the name of ambasader insulted by generalizing whole population calling the racists and bigots; not only you failed to protest to the generalized insult but you agree with the racist and bigot post. So, what I am saying that you got to stand in clear from selecting and picking. If generalization was in Mahmuday’s post then generalization is wrong with dude’s post.