Rule of the Jungle and A Quest to PFDJ mind Set

Tesfabirhan Weldegabir Redie

Part II

In my first part, did I say, “70 staff members stranded in one office” while I was trying to talk on the food security policies and its hollow propaganda?

Did it look shallow analytical approach for my justification?

It is so bizarre when I just mention such numbers from far. But, let me go in. I am not in doubt that we have a common understanding on human capital; sure it is with no doubt that human capital is a multiplying factor when it is utilized properly. I said in part ILI just those 70 staff member just visit, sign and quite the office. How do you feel when you woke up from your bed, eat your breakfast, dress properly and just leave your sweet home to put sign? As an individual and worker, how might feel? I can imagine that you are drawing the devastation that it creates. And at office level, it is being nonfunctional.

Let’s go on to the mathematical interpretation. My objective is to see the multiplication effect of this single phenomenon.

At this time, speaking safely, each sub-zoba has around 70 staff numbers. At zoba level, zoba Anseba has 14 sub-zobas, then simple arithmetic, 70 x 14 = 980, approximately 1000 Agricultural scientists in this zoba and at national level, 55 x 70 = 3850 capable scientists are just sign on their daily attendance sheet, which is mandatory (mandatory to sign but not to work) and leave as not all can get a place to stay. 3850 agricultural scientists!


In the other hand, 78.4 % (according to 2010 FAOSTAT) of our population is considered as farmers. In fact, today, the number reaches almost 90%. Did you hear ERI-TV broadcasting an x-taxi driver changed to a farmer? If a taxi driver quitted his city works, then, there must be something wrong in the downtown. Changing the entire Eritrean people into agrarian livelihood is the main driving force that was followed for the last 23 years. A wrong interpretation of “Self-Reliance” and “Food security policies and strategies.”

Have you ever though on this kind of shift, from rural population to agrarian or rural life? It is not easy to follow the line. This is just to trace a conclusion that almost 90 % of the entire Eritrean population are spending in search of something to eat. Anyone who visited Asmara can see this. Small farms increased city small-corner agricultural products open market increased. And long time before, as a pretention of national development program, the national service members joined agricultural activities. These soldiers, organized in the form of units started agricultural activities in every corner of the country. Can you calculate the number, I mean, their total number? 90 % is a safe number.

See then the paradox: even the city dwellers being changing into farming sedentary system and 3850 agricultural scientists just visit and put their signature?

Where is then agriculture? Where is the scientific means of producing food?

For the time being, let’s just consider those 90 % are able to produce more than enough farm products?

My reflections here are a bit extensive than I can say. The concept is very much complicated and it touches every aspect of the policy, economic policy, national security policy, social policy etc. And the way I tried to put my reflections may look so shallow and probably one dimensional. From far, it may look so. But it is not.

I call you to have a look deep into the Eritrean matters and go beyond emotional judgments before judging what you are reading here. Come unto yourself and make your own counting on how the PFDJ’s thinking affects Eritrean daily life. That is the only way that we can draw a deep understanding on what is going on around us.

In fact, PFDJ policy is of “dependent by nature on making black businesses.” Consequently, no clear image can be drawn on what is going inside Eritrea unless a critical observation is done by every individual. Regarding me, my approach is to draw a link between the ideology and its specific sphere of applications in the PFDJ’s Eritrea.

Are you ready? Let me go further to the JUSHE ideology.

Chawi: Military Independence

In this regard, Juche tries to elaborate the military independence as the foremost area in maintaining the peace and security of a nation. It asserts that;

And it continues by stating;

                 Although Kim Il Sung conceded that foreign support played a secondary role in the   holistic war against foreign “imperialists” and “aggressors,” he heavily emphasized that the decisive factor would be the preparation of internal domestic purposes. Thus he pledged the government to prepare the Korean people and the army thoroughly and ideologically to cope with war and to make full material preparations to defend the country by relying on an independent national economy.

I am not a military analyst, but as I have seen the last 18 years of Eritrean military development, it is easy to read what was and is going on inside Eritrea. We have been told day and night that the foreign intervention will keep in danger the Eritrean sovereignty all the time and the only solution is to keep people alert. And nothing is more haven than to build the military force and make them ready for all possible solutions.

Did you read from this simple paragraph of Chewari (military independence) is easy to protect against imperialist. Throughout the cold war period and years before, the notion, “Imperialist” is so common to be heard by the eastern block to attack and weaken America. Then in the Eritrean case, just the word imperialist is absent and replaced directly by America. And parallel to this, Ethiopia named as a first hand for the implementation of American interest in the region.

Keep an eye on this politics.

Unlike the cold war and Maoist-Leninist mind set, the word “imperialist” in Tigrigna ‘Tsioninet’ is absent and instead just America is present. A word game!

The scapegoat propaganda!

Just simply, “American Interest in our region.” So funny and gambling act for an ordinary mass politics. Eti kedem wutsuat diyom zibehalu nerom, the oppressed in English?

It is not different but just a recent in its time duration but old in its concept of handling cold war like internal politics. The trick is, “for oppressors, there must be a self created enemy. I am not denying what the Americans may think politically to keep their interest in each region, but, I am stressing on an illusion created to build something that you perceived and defend for an ideological line set.

Then, come back to my lines. I want you to see the steps that were taken by PFDJ to have military independence. Sawa military training center, the WiÁ, Mietir, Hashferay, recently military concentration camps around Afabet, then minor training centers for militias. The entire Eritrean population is 6,233,682 (according to 2013 estimates) and such diverse and big military training centers. And do you have an image on the average number of people who got trained every year in all these centers?

Let’s take a minimum average youths. For the time being, I am excluding the recent old, as old as 50 years, militias who are getting training to join the military force. According to 2012 estimates, 51.2 % of the entire population lies between the ages of 15-54. And, if the birth rate is taken as 3%, out of this suppose, 2.0 % are reaching age of 15-18. Then, according to simple mathematics, 155, 842 youths are potential for military training. And according to National Service proclamation of 1994, male and female are obliged to do their service. And assume 50% from this are recruited for military training, be it in Sawa or else. Then, 77, 921 Eritreans get training each year. And if we multiply this by 18 years, we have 1,402,578 people got full military training. And plus, informal military training such as for militias, those who try to leave left is it under estimation? Sure it is, but to be just aware, let the number be as it is.

No reliable statistics is available on the Eritrean demography (I don’t know why they did not make it public, though every family, from south to North and from East to West is registered because of KUPON), but if we consider the Eritrean population who live inside Eritrea is 5 million and those with age between 40-55 constitute 10% of the entire Eritrean population, then 623, 368 are in the militias. This is in fact true if we see what happened recently in all parts of Eritrea. Starting from 2012 onwards all Eritrean men who are in governmental civil services and those who were excused from military due to different reasons were forced to have a gun and be public soldiers (Hizbawi Serawit). Though they stay around their village or home, they fulfill all obligations what a soldier should do; training, regular attendance, and security services.

Then just by minimum and simple mathematical calculations, Eritrea has 2,025,946 soldiers (1,402,578 + 623, 368). Just this is a simple calculation.

Sure some innocent people may say, already 100 thousands abandoned the military force and this number is non-existent. Come on buddy, this is minimum number by doing all possible cancellations. If we consider those who departed their military position and those who are in prison centers, the number will be almost 50% of the entire population, almost 3, 000, 000 soldiers who got a chance to be enlisted in the ministry of defense.

Therefore, just these 2,025,946 soldiers are now either fully equipped or partially (like the militias) and remain active members who reside inside. Oh my GOD!

Then, this number will make Eritrean number one in Africa in its military resources. I am saying number one, by comparing the ration. Probably some, in fact very few African countries might have such big numbers, but when we see the percentile ratio, (2,025,946/6,233,682 = 32.5%).It is a big number.

Just for comparison, suppose Ethiopia has 5 million soldiers, and if it’s entire population is 91.73 million (according 2012 estimates), the percentile ratio is around 5%.

Be careful my friends, number is not the major factor to be one strong or weak in military science. Eritrean freedom fighters had proved this during the armed struggle. My objective is not to compare Eritrea is having this and Ethiopia like that. My objective is to see how much Eritrean population is militarized. From this, we can easily draw the application of militarization in the Juche ideology. Regarding this, Eritrea perfectly matches to North Korea.

[Some facts about North Korea: Total Population: 24,720,407, Available Manpower: 12,933,972, Fit for Service: 10,066,704, Reaching Military Age Annually: 412,290], Active Frontline Personnel: 690,000, Active Reserve Personnel: 4,500,000 (Global fire Index, 2014)

One thing to remind you, my assumption is as if the Eritrean military is under normal circumstances in which a soldier should be. The factual in the ground is different. How equipped the soldier is, how well feed the soldier is, how well paid the soldier is, etc, just lets be optimistic regarding this. Just let’s consider what a normal soldier is.

Cherki zelewa, cherki zeybila diyom zibluna nerom abti werarat!

Worse is their approach. Juche as its guidance says,

The North Korean attitude towards military confrontation was summed up in this manner by Kim IL Sung: “We do not want war, nor are we afraid of it, nor do we beg peace from the imperialists.”

In Eritrea it is the same. The news media are saying, we need peace, and in the ground military build-up never stopped. Then what is the job of a soldier? More than a million are trained to fight not to sing a love song or marsh for an honor of a king or a leader. A soldier is a soldier. There must be a job for him, a job to fight. If there is no war, they do not have jobs and by all means they need to work. How can a man who has a mind to think be fooled by such ideological propagandas.

Sure one blind observant may say Eritrea is in ‘No war, No peace” situation.


Come on guys. See a good example, the great example available in this planet, how South Korea went beyond this, while North Korea remained under such psychological mind, while still maintain their border security and achieving miles of progress in the social, economical and political transformation.

Here, I am not belittling the necessity of military presence or military necessity. I am trying to look the ideological trap of military independence.

Anyway, the discussion could be with non-stop, but I have to say ok from this onwards, go on what you know or what is available in the information media.

Probably it is a replication of phenomenon like what is happening between Eritrea and Ethiopia with that of North Korea and South Korea. The South Korean’s building beyond military, including of course their military and their country in general. While, North Korea stuck on military build-up, South Koreans did all at the same time. I didn’t read much about Ethiopia, because of the closed information that I had previously and sure hate built within me as our enemies and killers of my people by knowing what they did to us during the 30 years war and more, and its unjust act on the innocent Eritreans who were living there before the border conflict.

But, now, I am trying to look not only in Ethiopia but in all Africa and beyond on what is going on in the ground. And for my surprise, OMG, I found myself being fooled. What a stupid mind is, really stupid!

From psychological wisdom, it is wise not to make friendship with one who hates something. Can you guess why? Don’t worry; it is because the one who hates is a good teacher on how to hate.

I hope I will make friendship from now onwards with one who can teach me how to love, not on how to hate. That is what PFDJ manifested on the Eritrean mind-set. And worse, when you hate, the brain stops to analyze things. And this is what PFDJ succeeded in his 20 years propaganda.

And the opposite is true. If you live with one who teaches love, the universe is open to give you all the wisdom is available.

Oh my fellow brothers, I need to continue to say something on how the ideology is originated and the philosophy that builds it.

Origins of the Juche Philosophy

There are three major schools of thought regarding the origins of the Juche ideology. The first of these is the instrumental perspective, which emphasizes domestic and international relations factors. The second perspective focuses on the influence of traditional Korean politics. The last viewpoint considers Juche to be original political thought stemming directly from the life experiences of Kim IL Sung.

Instrumental Perspective

            The instrumentalist viewpoint focuses on both domestic and foreign political factors as the root of the Juche ideology. Some scholars believe that Kim’s unstable power during an immediately following the Korean War caused him to deploy ideological purges in order to consolidate his political position, using the Juche principle of national solidarity as a domestic instrument of personal cult-building. To this end, Kim IL Sung forbade any other ideology from being discussed or taught in North Korea. Since the content and application of the Juche ideology were very ambiguous until the late 1960s, Kim IL Sung was the only one who could successfully wield and implement the philosophy. Thus, implementing and executing policies based on Juche effectively consolidated Kim IL Sung’s absolute political power and indirectly provided ideological justification for his dictatorship in North Korea.

The observations I did regarding military independencewere mainly focusing on the number of military members recruited. Did you get my objective why I emphasized to the figures? Sure you did. 32.5 % out of the total active population being directly or indirectly in the military force is not a simple thing. According to North Korean thinking, they say, “we do not want war, nor are we afraid of it, nor do we beg peace from the imperialists.”

First, they don’t want war. That is great and peaceful word.

It does not stop here, it does continue by saying, “nor are we afraid of it.” How can one be afraid of if almost half of the entire populations are trained to be soldiers? The soldier’s job is to fight and kill when the so called enemy is coming. All the training they receive, the way their minds are oriented are to use a gun properly. That is their job. They will love when they see fire in-front of them. They will jump to fight. By the way, if there is no war or enemy, they are unemployed and the notion ‘military’ vanishes from dictionary of these societies. All soldiers need a job.

Oh the mind set continues by saying of Juche, ‘We do not beg peace from the imperialist.’ Really stupid mind!

All in one; want peace, saying we are not afraid of it and then the enemy coming and not asking peace from him. By the way, in these modern days, enemy is “Economy!” and the only weapon that you may need is the mind and educated society. It is not a mind who only knows how to fight. I am saying. All dimensional build-up is what it is needed today, and for least developed countries like Eritrea, may be military is wastage of time and energy. Don’t rush into defending like the PFDJ state of mind. I know the strategic importance of Eritrea very well and I know why Ethiopia still needs this region. But we can move ahead of such military confrontation.

What a perfect application is regarding the PFDJ’s objective in opening Sawa School?

In 2003, Sawa was transformed into a center of final year of high school and vocational training center. Look here, The Chewi component of the ideology states that,

The implementation of this self-reliant defense system would involve

  1. The mobilization of the whole country
  2. The complete inculcation of ideology in the armed forces.
  3. Those who were not directly taking up arms were to contribute to the construction and maintenance of the domestic defense industry and remain ideologically prepared.

This is the exact objective of Sawa school center. After summer 2001 Asmara University student movement, PFDJ officers started to visit the University day and night and more, there were secret round table discussions with the university scholars on how to handle the situation. In all the observations they did, the university community was found with different mind attitude. And then, they black mailed the society and officially closed the university by the changing the whole existing educational system.

I remember those days with full of illusions and misguided decisions. New curriculum was introduced starting from elementary school to college level. University was officially closed and all resources were allocated to those newly opened colleges. I was in the university when these all decisions were happening. Unfortunately, I was the last batch who got the chance to finish in the university, and not lucky enough to make my graduation ceremony inside the campus. Graduation ceremony was held in Mai-Nefhi and this was in 2007. No single graduante was happy at that time.


All these were done to produce youths who are ideologically obedient to the system the PFDJ’s ideology, ideologically well prepared, both physically and mentally. Going to Sawa and spend one year in a communal life, with main objective being obedient to the unconsciously perceived nationalism and be ready to fight. In fact, 6 months military training is the main curriculum of this whole one year. And finally, those who got the pass mark will have a chance to continue to the newly opened colleges.

Really a black history was recorded in the Eritrean education. Regarding the educational quality, I may not have enough capacity to synthesis well especially in the elementary, junior and high school level. A radical change has being observed in the over-all performance of the students. Don’t expect though a positive radical change. In fact, all the end results were the opposite.

All the new colleges started with a newly drafted curriculum and this functioned until all the closed university staff members were forcedly mobilized to the colleges. And at this time, to be more exact, in the academic year of 2006/2007, those newly arrived staff members came not only physically, but with their old curriculum and re-introduced almost directly all the former university of Asmara’s curriculum. They did this because what they found was very hard to go with. And soon, they started to improve the curriculum according to acceptable standards, but really not with enough consultations of the objectives of PFDJ agendas. As a result, the educational system of the colleges became again far from the PFDJ influence.

The PFDJ reshufflings only created mistrust and incapability of dealing with their ideological agendas. But, at least they succeeded in distorting the youth mind and in destroying the free minded university graduates who started to challenge the ruling elites. Regarding the curriculum system, it is not different from what it was even it got much better in its content and in making the youths to think more freely.

Parallel to this, a cadre school was opened in 2005, first in Sawa and then moved to Nakfa. The objective of this school, its name called, “School of Social Sciences” is to produce cadres who are equipped with social ideology. It enrolls students from all spheres of the society, military, civil, colleges and PFDJ members. And more, the NUEYS opened a school in Mekerka where it produces junior cadres.

Technical schools were re-organized to receive youths after completion of grade 9 and for those who failed to get the pass marks. And those who finished in the technical school did not get a chance to enter to higher studies. Junior Health Assistant Training Center schools were also opened who produce junior professionals.

All these were meant to produce technically minded youths who can just work for what the master minded elites think is necessary to the nation.

And more, a mass mobilization of the society in the form of local soil and water conservation campaigns become daily activity at local administrative level. Soldiers, beside their guns, were given construction equipments to work day and night.

The Eritrean communities residing abroad, an intensive and deceitful campaign was introduced first in the name of national development program and later for helping the families of the martyrs. Cultural performance by singers became one of the favorite dancing ceremonies in gathering the Diasporas. In addition, a new and intensive movement was initiated targeting the youths by the name called Young-PFDJ. They gave them false titles, really a false title that fooled young and innocent youths who knew Eritrea from far.

“The Next Generation Leaders of the Country”

Nay Tsibah merahti hager in tigrigna


How about those who are working day and night inside the country?

Though I am not surprised with such false propaganda, I learnt one great lesson and this is just a game of the dirty ideological mindset.

Actually, those who work hard to manifest such image among the diaspora youths passed the same course of history. If we read the EPLF history of the 1970s, we can easily guess why they did this. Yemane Gebreab, the initiator and master of the Y-PFDJ organizations in the diaspora, was a student in America before he joined the armed struggle. And many still are active from those Eritrean Student movements in foreign countries. Yemane is right if he thinks the way he did. What he knows is, he came from America and became the leader. And many more around him are the same.

He might have forgotten the ELF and EPLF founders who devoted their life being in the the front. And he may assume the same for the next generation.

Jigna do yinebir elkumo?

Those who were in the front, lost their life for the sake of independence and those who were in the diaspora came and took the leadership position. In fact, they are better educated and are with full energy. And they know the “Yes-to-Boss” tricks which will keep them around a leader who like such kind of people. A hero is a hero!, he can never say a BLIND OK, yes sir, unless he is convinced totally. Such a simple example we have is those who lost their lives in the 1970s (named as Menka’e movement), 1980s (Yemenawyan), and 1990s (the war disabled, by the name of religious extremists and demand for basic salaries) and late in 2000s (G-15 and forto 2013). If you are in doubt, please read history of G-15, history of Ibrahim Afa, and many likes.

Then, Yemane and his likes are right and they know who can obey the dictatorial power build by DIA.

All this was meant to mobilize the resources available for the so called national development program.

Even though, PFDJ succeeded in mobilizing the whole society, they failed totally in making the society ideologically conscious. This can be clearly seen in the mass military deserters and silent public disobedience to rules and regulations set to fulfill the agendas. Not only this, the cadres who were trained in the cadre schools became the main actors in quieting their active role in the position they were assigned. This could have many reasons, but one big reason could be the false teaching methodology applied in the school and the false promises given to the questions raised by the cadres.

What they really succeeded was in putting all people in the so called national development campaigns, directly or indirectly, with nominal payments or unpaid. In fact it is a real slavery of the 21st century, where people do not get any benefit except losing their life, precious time and property.

Recently, I read a campaign to stop this slavery. It is really a call for all Eritrean youths. I remember my three years slavery (2006-mid 2009), where I was forced to be poorer and poorer than I was a student. Modern slavery of human being in Eritrea!

I said mine is three years. Yes, some of you may say, “this is just normal, as there are many who are still staying under this slavery for 18-22 years.” Yes, slavery is slavery. No single human being should have being kept when there was rule of law. The duration may vary, but, even those who fought during the 30 years war and are working under different positions are also slaves.

Am I saying Slavery is slavery?

Yes, even a single minute should not be allowed for slavery. Let’s stop slavery all together!

So far, we have seen to see what Juche ideology is according to DPRK applications and how Eritreans are treated by this kind of ideology, though, not officially declared as an ideology, at all levels of life spheres. My approach is still from general to quite specific (Deduction-Induction Approach). And more, based on my own observations and interpretations of the ideology. To make how such measures are intermingled in our daily life, I gave some personal experiences and hence a specific in its interpretation.

Then, let me flash you back on the origin of Juche ideology.

As we read,

I have discussed with the first part of the three major schools of thought regarding the origins of the Juche ideology. The latter two will be discussed also as follows.

Traditional Political Culture

            This perspective is more long-term and focuses on the influence of traditional political culture in Korea. The scholars in this second camp argue that Juche is a reflection of a centuries-old tradition of independence from foreign powers. Strategically located at a peninsular tip of the East Asian continent, Korea has long been a pawn of contention between its two powerful neighbors, China and Japan. From the earliest recorded history, the Korean people have fought fiercely to maintain their independence in the face of multiple invasions by Mongols, Manchurians, Han Chinese and Japanese pirates and samurais. The sum total of these invasions may qualify Korea as the most oft-invaded territory in the world. Under the Yi Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 until the Japanese annexation in 1910, Korea became a highly defensive state with a foreign policy of isolation towards the outside world. When Kim Il Sung came to power in North Korea in 1945, he arguably reverted to the highly isolationist policies of pre-modern Korea.

Furthermore, this viewpoint encompasses the exposition of Juche as a brand of Korean Leninist nationalism, a “creative adoption of Marxism-Leninism” peculiarly suited to the Korean situation, described by Kim Jong IL as

        “A difficult and complex revolution which had to deal with the tasks of the anti-imperialist, national-liberation revolution, with formidable Japanese imperialism as the target, and those of the anti-feudal, democratic revolution simultaneously.”

Baek Nam Un, a Korean sociologist who later aided Kim Il Sung, said that the situation in Korea requires an independent and creative adoption of Marxism and Leninism, and a peculiar synthesis of nationalism and socialism. Kim Il Sung himself said:

To establish Juche is a question of special importance for us in the light of our country’s geographical situation and environments, of the peculiarities of its historical development, and the complex and arduous nature of our revolution.

… to be continued


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