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September 1, Happy Double Awate Day

If nations do not have symbols, they create them. National symbols help solidify a common identity and strengthen unity. Every nation does gives attention to symbols, including the ancient Greeks who created “national mythos”. Some nations go as far as creating fictional narratives and heroes as symbols or created symbols and national narratives from mythologies. However, lucky nation do not have to resort to creating fictional heroes, they are endowed with heroes who inspire them, and a national epic struggle that empower them. South America in general, and Venezuela in particular, has Simon Bolivar for an icon. The USA has George Washington. Eritreans have Hamid Idris Awate. He is the man who followed on the footsteps of Eritrean heroes of the forties and fifties of the last century, the pioneers of the resilient Eritrean struggle for self determination. But Awate took the Eritrean cause and struggle for determination and freedom to a new level, and his farsighted leadership inspired Eritreans to fiercely fight for their rights. Finally, the armed struggle that Awate initiated culminated in the liberation of the Eritrea in May 24, 1991.

Unfortunately, due to the limitations of scholarships in Eritrea, and Eritreans are overwhelmed by the injustice that is befalling their country, not much has been written about Hamid Idris Awate. However,  his memory, his inspiration and heroism, is etched in the heart of every Eritrean patriot.

Despite the betrayal of the Eritrean struggle by the Isaias regime, Eritreans find solace in the fact that Awate’s struggle is still alive. His children and grandchildren, the torchbearers of the current struggle are determined to rid Eritrea of the stains of injustice and oppression, and to usher an era of peace, justice and freedom in its place. All the time they are led by the spirit of Awate, and guided by his vision. Eritrean patriots will always remain true to their icon who shaped their sense of patriotism and selfless struggle.

Unfortunately, some have tried (and are still trying) to weaken and defeat the Eritrean resolve by assaulting the history and the person of Awate who is the bedrock of the Eritrean nationalism. But the Eritrean patriots know that there is no national Eritrean narrative in isolation of awate, and they will not allow the wicked to demoralize Eritreans by attacking the foundation of their nationalism. They will fight back any such attempt with resilience, the way Awate taught them how.

Today, September 1, 2015, we celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Eritrean armed struggle, which was ignited by our hero Hamid Idris Awate, and the 15th anniversary of awate.com that is named after the national icon, we renew our commitment, and we promise to stay the course until we see Eritrea free from the shackles of tyranny and free from the Isaias regime. On this occasion, we are re-posting below what Tahir Indoul wrote about the exceptional Eritrean icon fourteen years ago, on September 1, 2001.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of our armed struggle, we duly pay tribute to all men and woman martyrs who paid their lives, the most precious thing a human being can offer, for our cause, our national aspirations and dreams.

Nobody can avoid mentioning Hamid Idris Awate’s name and role when remembering the great day of September 1st 1961, which remains as one of the most important turning points in our history.

Awate, the man of history, occupies special place in our hearts and memories.  He was the guardian, the defender and above all father and the founder of the Eritrean revolution.  While Awate’s name was a source of terror and intimidation to the enemy’s ear and its collaborators, it was causing a sense of great hope for Eritreans, a feeling of protection, defiance, and confidence in the inevitability of the ultimate victory of their legal and just struggle.

Awate is the first Eritrean revolutionary and leader who fired the first bullet of Eritrean armed struggle with 13 other pioneers in the historic battle of Adal.  He dedicated his life serving the cause of his people and demanded no less than the liberation of the man and the land.

A profile of a leader:

Hamid Idris Awate was born at Gerset, located between Tessenei and Omhajer in southwestern Eritrea in the year 1910.  His father was a peasant and known to own a rifle.  Awate was trained by his father how to use that gun.  At early age, he was a very skillful fighter who achieved great superiority in the usage of arms and developed a high knighthood skill that gained him the respect of his generation.

Grown up in a locality that appreciates and values ethical principles based on honesty and faithfulness, Awate was known to be a man of moral values and a good example for them to follow, trust and was a great leader to be obeyed.

In 1935, he was conscripted by the Italians to serve in the colonial army.  Beside his fluency in Arabic, Tigre, Tigrina, Nara, Hedareb, and Kunama, Awate learned the Italian language within short period of time and was sent to Rome for a course in military intelligence.

After returning from Italy, he was appointed as security officer in Western Eritrea.  Shortly after that, he served as deputy chief of the city of Kassala, Sudan and surroundings during the brief Italian occupation of that city.

At end of World War II, Awate returned to his village.  He went back to a humble life style where he can farm and raise cattle. The British soldiers who were searching for arms in western Eritrea have, in the process, confiscated properties and killed cattle of the localities in Gash\Setit and Barka areas. In a self-defense reaction, Awate killed one of the soldiers.  The British authorities accused Awate of a “crime” and forced him to live as a fugitive for some time.  In the meantime, he was defending his people against the British plunders and other bandits who cross the border from the Sudan, the Shifta from other parts of Eritrea and Ethiopia who used to raid and loot the properties of people of the Gash\Setit and Barka areas as well.

Awate commanded a group of 40 gunmen who Actively operated against the British forces causing heavy loses among them.  Aware of his great influence and role, the British colonial authorities decided to negotiate with Awate in order to avoid embarrassments and cool the tension with him. A deal was reached and the result was that he could go back to his village and live in peace.

Awate was a symbol of courage, bravery and boldness. His leadership capabilities were enhanced by his daily experiences through the posts he held coupled with his national consciousness and awareness of his people’s problems and concerns. He was the most respected individual in the Gash\Setit and Barka areas. The people in these areas had full confidence on him and his leadership.  Many instances are told about his courage and how he was able to fight back when attacked by colonial police and assassins.

When the Ethiopian government broke the terms of the UN Federal Resolution, reducing Eritrea to status of an occupied country, the Eritrean people rose against it, showing their objection to that evil act by the Emperor’s government who adopted all means and ways of torture, intimidations, imprisonments, and killings. In the face of that,  the Eritreans did not yield or surrender to the Ethiopian unilaterally annulling of the federation agreement. The Eritreans had no way out but to exercise their right of self-defense. Martyr Awate witnessed all the details of the Ethiopian ugly act.

Being a man of initiatives and combat, he didn’t leave events to take course according to the aggressor’s wish. He decided to take an action that would set history straight and restore stolen rights, but he was waiting for the right time to take the most important decision of his life.

The armed Struggle

In July 1960, in the city of Cairo, a group of young Eritrean students and intellectuals held a meeting and formed the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF).  The group consisted of the following names:

1. Idris Mohammed Adem (the president of the Eritrean Parliament)
2. Idris Osman Galaydos (a graduate of law school in Cairo University)
3. Mohammed Saleh Hummed (a graduate of law school in Cairo Uni.)
4. Said Hussian (a student of Al-Az’har University in Cairo)
5. Adem Mohammed Akte (a graduate from University of Cairo)
6. Taha Mohammed Noor (a graduate from Italy)

Back home, the Ethiopian authorities were suspicious of Awate’s movements and activities, and were watching him closely.

On his book Eritrea, destiny challenges, Hamid Saleh Turkey wrote about Awate’s beginnings and how the Ethiopian police forces had a plan to arrest Awate in his village in August 1961.  Turkey explains that the Ethiopians deployed a large amount of police forces but their plans were failed thanks to an Eritrean nationalist within the Ethiopian police who informed Awate earlier of that plan. Thus, Awate was able to escape the trap and headed to mount Adal.

Awate’s decision to kindle the armed struggle was reached after a period of long deliberations with other nationalists who operated actively in a network and pledged to deal with the Ethiopians in the language they understand.  That decision which change the course of our history, was a fruit of a well organized endeavors and sincere portrait activities by individuals proven to be loyal to the cause of their people.

On an interview with Eritrea Al-haditha, issue #75, 2nd year, fighter Mohammed Al-hassan Dohen, a long time friend of Awate and his assistant when Awate was “Shiakh Al Khet”, meaning in charge of a district, says:” In the year 1960, Idris Mohammed Adem sent a letter to Awate, the letter was written in Arabic… Hamid Awate told me that Idris Mohammed Adem was asking him to declare the armed struggle; but he was not ready for it at that time.  After four months, Mohammed Al-Shiekh Daood, who was a famous Eritrean nationalist, came and asked Awate to declare the revolution.  Awate agreed to lead the armed struggle and declare the revolution but asked for support.  Mohammed Al-Shiekh Daood provided Awate with arms, “3 abu khamsa” and gave him 300 Birr with sugar and tea.  In addition, Ibrahim Mohammed Ali brought two rifles and myself owned a rifle.  At the beginning we were only seven, then shortly our number grown to be 13 fighters.”

Awate received a lot of pressures to end the revolution.  The Ethiopian authorities desperately attempted to crush the revolution in its early stages.  According to Awate’s contemporaries, a military unit in six cars was sent to apprehend Hamid Awate but didn’t succeed.  The Ethiopian resorted to using different tactics to deal with Awate.  Mohammed Al-Hassan Dohen indicates in his interview that Omer Hassano and Egeal Abdulrahman did a last minute appeal to end Awate’s rebellion on August 1961.  Awate responded saying:” If you want us to end our armed struggle, then you better lower the Ethiopian flag and raise up the Eritrean flag.”

When the Ethiopian got that defiance reply, they lost their temper and decided to use aggressive military measures against Awate and pioneers.

The mount of Adal witnessed the birth of the long awaited event, the declaration of Eritrean revolution.  Armed with strong believe in their just cause, Awate and pioneer made the history of our armed struggle in Adal with very poor preparations in terms of arms, men and equipments which were incomparable to the Ethiopian machinery and hardware.   Nevertheless, they waged their first fierce battle against the Ethiopian occupation in mount Adal.  The freedom fighters, the “RA’EEL” pioneer, who accompanied Awate, were the followings:

1. Abdu Mohammed Faid (the first martyr)
2. Ibrahim Mohammed Ali
3. Hummed Gadef
4. Awate Mohammed Faid
5. Mohammed Beareg
6. Mohammed Adem Hassan
7. Saleh Giroog
8. Ahmed Fekak
9. Mohammed Al-hassan Dohen.
10. Adem Fegoorai
11. Ali Bekhit
12. Idris Mohmoud
13. Omer Kerai

According to Awate’s contemporaries, the battle of Adal lasted for 7 hours from (6 am to 1 pm).  Failing to crash the newly formed Eritrean Liberation Army (ELA), the Ethiopian forces retreated back and Awate ordered ELA fighters to withdraw to Obel area then to the area of Omer Siggo.  The reaction to Adal battle was great among Eritreans.  The Eritrean people showed their support and solidarity with their revolution.  The ELA pioneer received a warm welcome wherever they go.  On his side, Mohammed Al-Shiekh Daood sold 30 camels to raise the needed amount of money to supply the revolution and submitted that money to Awate.

Having received a humiliation in the battle of Adal, the Ethiopians were alarmed by Awate’s performance in that battle. They started massing their forces to carry out a large-scale attack.  The Ethiopians were able to encircle ELA in the area of Omal where another fierce battle took place and resulted in martyrdom of the first Eritrean freedom fighter, Abdu Mohammed Faid.

ELA was getting stronger as new well-trained fighters who serve in the Sudanese military forces began to join the armed struggle.  Kiboop Hejaj and Adem Ge’sear joined Awate and at later time, on February 17th 1962, another group consisted of 11 freedom fighters joined too. They were:

1.      Mohammed Idris Haj
2.      Omer Hamid Ezaz
3.      Taher Salem
4.      Osman Mohammed Idris (abu shenap)
5.      Ibrahim Mohammed Behdouri
6.      Mohammed Omer Abdella (abu tyara)
7.      Omer Mohammed Ali (Da’mer)
8.      Kisha Mohammed Kisha
9.      Mohammed Ibrahim
10.    Abdalla Idirs Adem
11.    Adem Gendifel

Kiboob Hejaj was famous for his accuracy at pointing and shooting at the enemy.  Asking forgiveness for killing his enemy in the battlefield, he used to say: ”Af feni” in Tigre language, which means forgive me, because Kiboob knows that when he points, he will never miss.

Awate led all the battles fought during his life.  Freedom fighter Abu Rigella reported that after the battle of Amnait, leader Awate and Mohammed Ibrahim Shandi got wounded.  He says that, they were 11 military and civilian individuals joined Awate, they swear in front of him, and declared their commitment to fight with him.

Abu Rigella attended the meeting when Awate was elected as a leader unanimously and Mohammed Idris Haj as his deputy. He says” Awate addressed the meeting saying: “ We are all Eritreans, we have to serve our country with honesty and sincerity, we are here to achieve a goal, and if there is anybody who may has individual ambitions other than the declared objective, then, he must leave now.  We all have to show extreme commitment and dedication and carry out the commands and instructions of the leader, no matter how hard they are, for the cause of our country.””

On May 27th 1962, Awate drunk milk for dinner, then soon told his unit that he was not feeling good.  His condition began to deteriorate quickly.  It is said that Awate called pioneer Kiboob Hajaj and gave him his beloved gun emphasizing on the continuations of the revolution.  The next morning, Awate rested in peace.  The ELA decided not reveal the martyrdom of Awate, and they buried him secretly.  Awate’s martyrdom was made public 4 years after his death.

Martyr and leader Hamid Idris Awate lead the armed struggle in its critical times.  He laid the way for this new Eritrean experience to take its shape.  Awate died when our revolution was in desperate need for his leadership.  He has gone but left huge legacy of self-reliance.  He left without a farewell to his comrades, people, family, and most importantly his wife and son Karar who was born in the jail in the city of Tessanai.  May Allah\God bless him and bless all our martyrs.

On this occasion, I would like to call the attention of all Eritreans for the need to have a book about our great martyr and leader Awate.  The new generation needs to learn and understand our history.

About Awate Team

The PENCIL is awate.com's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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  • Mahmud Saleh

    salam bayan the gentle voice; and HaileTG the Hayal; all awatawyan
    This is an after-hours edition and viewers discretion is strongly suggested. I updated you on my wedding experience and included a link that contrasts with that experience. I brought the link to illustrate the fact that what some writers say could be totally unfounded. In the link, Rezene Habte depicted an Eritrea that could not hold up; my daily experience tell me the opposite. Brother Bayan replied graciously with a lengthy rebuttal to Rezene’s notion. HaileTG replied to brother Bayan and the thread died off. I will try to summarize hastily my thoughts before I hit the bed. And I will err on the side opposing brother Bayan; this is of course, with due respect for the sharp minded man.
    Let me repeat that I would not be the preferred referee here. I just get off balance when I read those articles, like the one by Haw Rezene. I don’t know the man and I will not think he represents the 50% of our people he is alluding on whose behalf he is speaking. But I would assume that some editors should act responsibly. The freedom of expression comes with responsibility. We see this exercised even here in the United States. Media out lets practice a range of self-control and censure depending on the service they give (their mission), their underwriters, and targeted audience. Of course, they will also have to watch for laws that are in place in order to protect citizens and societies from the instigation of violence, hate crimes and discrimination. I am not implying the gentleman’s article falls within these categories. I’m just laying out a case. The case is about responsibility. When we raise issues of inequalities and the nature of the regime, we should not seek self-defeating strategies.

    When we spell out lists of grievances, our exhibit should not be people like the writer I linked; our evidence should not be what the few folks spew out of hateful diatribe. Eritrea is in dire situation calling us to act together. The regime could not be taken as representing Christians. If we fall into this conclusion we are giving the regime enough legitimacy. I do have contacts Haw Bayan, and I could tell you the regime is hated by our Tigrigna people too. The lowland bleeding has been going on for 50 years now (since the mass exodus of 1967). What we see today is a 1967 type of exodus of the Kabassa, albeit by a regime that is seen as the protector of that part of our society. How ironic!

    The above paragraph will take us to a position where we will have to ask ourselves: if the regime is no good to all sections of our people, how do we align ourselves in challenging it? That will again take us to your favorite “Tango dance.” If we believe today’s political manifestation under PFDJ is unusual, then we will have to work in order to change it. Change would mean the opposite of what PFDJ has practiced. I do believe most of the opposition programs accommodate or recognize the disparities we see in today’s PFDJ rule. We should not however take the current opposition as the alpha and omega of resistance. As I repeated it before, the current organized opposition will either rise to the occasion or will be made irrelevant. New faces and new reality of realignments of forces will take place. However, they will still have left us with experiences and literature in navigating these issues. The literature produced in areas of governance and diversity is very rich. Although in diaspora, we have been engaged civically. I am sure the experiences gained in negotiations and blunt talks will help us expedite the stability of democratic Eritrea. I may be dismayed but I don’t lose hope by these types of article. The good thing is: for any spoiler article there are more responsible articles to counter balance it. The articles we have shared in this month culminating in the speech of SGJ are all good examples of constructive narrations. In short, I would like to think of these spoilers in terms of recognizing that spoiler individuals and ideas will keep being part of the journey. Some will keep nudging us on issues that were resolved decisively, such as Awate/and ghedli, Eritrean independence, issues of language…etc. We should not give these few individuals a significance that’s beyond their size. I know you are passionate about not repeating past mistakes when it comes about power sharing. And you did address this in your last article. As I placed my opposition then, I still oppose any treatment that posits the struggle as a struggle of one segment against another, because it is not and it should not be portrayed that way (If I mischaracterized you please let me and I will be happy to correct the mistake). The struggle is one an Eritrean agaist a small clique that has effectively strangulated the nation. In the Eritrean stage, there are millions of losers of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and there are very few winners who hail from different colors and stripes. Therefore, change would mean a new reality. A new outlook. A democratically crafted covenant or constitution that would ensure equitable sharing of resources and power; and a lasting social contract could be hammered only IF we recognize that we all have been mistreated. That type of contract could be done between equals, not between a sector considered “hegemonic” and another considered “oppressed.” Because, theoretically, if we believe the Tigrignas have and will act hegemonic (if we build our political organization along the percept that the Tigrignas will always act hegemonic), then there should not be an assumption that a good-worded constitution will guarantee equitable share, even if the powers are devolved to the lowest political unit possible. And Since such a position would assume that this is a natural tendency, it should also assume that there could not be guarantees that sometime in the future another “Tigrigna” despot will not scramble the good-worded constitutional arrangement. Besides, even if we believe that Tigrigna are acting hegemonic, we can’t take that political description as endowed by the choice of the people. There is no Tigrigna elected government, anyway. Therefore, however the government does could not be blamed on the Tigrigna populace.

    Therefore, I will tend to believe these sorts of narrations are born out of diaspora minds. Let us be fair minded here. Rezene would have observed that his own church is becoming the source of divisions more than the Muslims he is targeting. In the area where I reside, there are more than four Eritrean Orthodox Churches. Justice seekers have been ravaged by divisions and suspicions based on churches. PFDJ knows how to remote-control these institutions, and it has been doing a damn good job at fueling disunity. He mentions about Eritrean Muslims refusing to participate in vigil observance, how inaccurate, to say the least. Where I live, the vigils, all of them, were attended by both faiths, the coordinating committee comprised both faiths; and in fact, the last vigils were organized by Ethiopians and Eritreans and we observed them together.

    The point is: There are trouble triggers from both faiths. There are Muslims who feel closer to Saudi Wahabis than their Eritrean Christian brethren. There are also Eritrean Christians who feel closer to the greater Habesha than their Eritrean Muslim brethren. Caught in between are the majority, Eritreans who understand the problem in all its facets and will never ever allow few spoilers to hijack the message.

    I do understand that brother Bayan’s rather militaristic position is influenced by his longing to see an Eritrea that should look like its lost rainbow. I say it’s possible and more assuring by trailing along the natural path of the journey for justice-together, dancing the tango in pairs. This will also shut the mouths of those militants who portray themselves as representing the respective portion of our people. It would be a strategic mistake if we surrender our fate to these few spoilers. PFDJ needs to be challenged not because it represents half of our people, but because it does not represent any of them.

    • Bayan Nagash

      Selam Ustaazain Mahmud wa Haile TG,

      Just to register your notes are duly noted and that I am going to respond in due course later today, inshallah. It pleases me to no end to read such heart felt responses from such gentle souls – I cannot ask for anything more than this to know that Eritrea would be in good hands with you gentlemen on the driver seat, if you like. To borrow sara’s concise phrase below: you’re two of the many in this forum who keep the “light beaming.” Keep on keeping on.


  • አዲስ

    Hi All,

    What do you make of this ? I heard this “green-light from the United States” phrase thrown around here at Awate. The usual PFDJ nonsense or something is brewing between the two countries ?

    “Eritrea has accused arch-rival Ethiopia of “sabre-rattling” and of threatening to invade, with the neighbours still in a tense standoff following a 1998-2000 border war.”….

    “The TPLF regime is resorting to tactics of covert intimidation to dissuade various circles from associating with Eritrea. It has gone beyond these hints to openly assert that, ‘it has secured a green-light from the United States to unleash war against Eritrea.'”



  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Dear Awatistas,

    The time: I think it is during the border conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia in 1957. I found this surprising information while I was making a research for my paper. If the Emperor proposed a federation between Ethiopia and Somalia, I wonder why the Emperor abrogate the federation between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Below is the quote and reference.

    “According to British Cabinet documents, Emperor Haile Selassie was the first to propose a federation between Ethiopia and Somalia. According to the document, the “Emperor’s recent speech at Gabredarre, in which the idea of federation between Somalia and Ethiopia was put forward, produced a sharp and hostile reaction from the Prime Minister of Somalia.”

    Reference: See : Daniel D. Kendie, “Toward North East African Cooperation: Resolving the Ethiopia-Somalia Disputes,”
    Northeast African Studies, vol. 10, no. 2 (2003), p.92. See the British Cabinet discussion that in a declassified report by the Secretary of the Cabinet of the UK, C. (57), 38, February 15, 1957.

    See: the British Cabinet document in a declassified report by the Secretary of the Cabinet of the UK, C. (57), 38,
    February 15, 1957, p. 4.

    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Dear Ammanuel Hidrat,
      I find it difficult to understand why it is said that the emperor unilaterally dissolved the federation, while we read that the federation was dissolved after a unanimous vote in the Eritrean assembly. Is it possible that HS acted, because he believed that there was support for it from the Eritrean side?
      I appreciate your answer in advance, because I know that you will try to give us the right answer.


  • Music Novice

    Greeting Fanti,

    An interesting post.

    You said: “The implication I sensed from your post is that none of the struggles of our region and many more like them should have happened …”

    That is not correct. What I am saying is that these kinds of movements, by their own nature, end up with promises of freedom, democracy and prosperity unfulfilled. I did not say these type of movements should or should not happen; which are beyond any individual’s control.

    • Fanti Ghana

      Hello MN,
      Is this your polite way of saying that my ‘senses’ may no longer be as sharp as they once were? I get it.

      • Music Novice

        Greetings Fanti,

        Not at all. It is an interesting post. One among others, the parable of the divorce seeking abused wife, stands out prominently.

  • Saleh Johar

    Your canal idea is good though you have to make a feasibility study because you will be drawning the entire potash, sulfur and other promising minerals for no fish because they cannot live in sulfuric water. Then you will kill Calluli mine that Isaias wants to mine for 100 years.

    • AOsman

      Selamat Saleh,

      Actually I did think about the potash, but discounted it based on what will be gained by far outweighs what is to be lost – of-course wearing salesman hat :).

      I thought the toxic sulfuric acid is a concentration or byproduct from the evaporated old sea water. Would it reduce once you refill it with an amount of sea water three time that of lake Tana in surface and probably much-much deeper? I believe so. The Red Sea is full of volcanic activities, toxic or not we have the best fish in the world and they are unhappy that we have showing interest in them and Lake Abis will be a spicy place. As a contingency (in case you are correct), we will have to employ Gen.Nitricc detoxify the place…he wont refuse a job where the end result is that he will be remember in History as the man who fed-rated much of East Africa.

      map on what the future looks


      • Abi

        Hi Kibur AOsman,
        Minister of Fisheries and Environmental Protection,
        I like to suggest the name of the lake should be Lake Hope.
        Imagine the potential value of fish in Lake Hope. Early studies show it is 250,000,000,000 per annum until kingdom comes. ( source: Hope Gerageru) . It is the same kind of fish that Jesus fed his people. He used only two fish to feed the mass. 200 fish can feed the whole population in the region. The rest 200 is for sale. “Yetebareke Assa.”
        Thank you for considering my recommendation.
        As to Lake Abi , he prefers Lake Abiyata to remain unchanged.

        • AOsman

          Hi Abi,

          No problem, since the name was dedicated to you, Lake Hope sounds good.

          A question to you – Is there a fish wot dish?

          My reason for asking, Siad Barre banned meat for one day a week to force Somalians to eat fish, but they just bought two days worth of meat to go around the ban. Early 90s PFDJ were promoting eating fish as healthy option, but we are not used to eating fish regularly (at least in the Highland), I guess the drive would have been more after the border war, without a doubt due to the incompetency of PFDJ the idea has failed.

          I don’t know how much work you need to prepare Ethiopians for fish, if you give us 2% cut as compensation for the Ex-Eritrean fish, we will be happy to make a deal.


          • Abi

            Sorry for the delay. I was eating fish from lake hope. You know it takes long time to eat fish. I HATE eating fish when I am hungry.
            There is Asa weT. Mostly in the fasting season. There is also shimbra Asa weT also for fasting season.
            AOsman, right now we are eating goats including mountain goats. It is difficult to catch them these days. If you see them running on the mountain! No wonder they love living on the cliff. I guess it is their nature.
            Once we are done with the goats, the fish are next.
            Can you cut the head of the fish for us?
            You know ” yeAsa gimatu kechinqilatu”.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Hello Awatawyan

    When I read something like the one below, my energy level goes down.
    And when I attend weddings and other social functions, I know I am fine. I attended yesterday a wedding of along friend’s son. The mother of the bridegroom is from Tigray, Ethiopia, and the father is a long time activist Eritrean who had travelled the horn region in his primetime years. He was a truck driver, and as it was the custom, he would have known the road connecting Asmara to Addis like the palm of his hand. He also served communities in the lowlands, and had made acquaintances with members of my family. He spoke Tigrigna, Arabic, Tigre, Amharic fluently. He met his wife (the mother of the bridegroom) in the Sudan. He made an impact on my family when we were new to the new world we call now home. A very generous and witty man. His name was Tesfankiel.
    Interesting multilevel people to people contacts makes these sort of occasions reclaim our human nature and character.
    First, the wedding was a community business. Eritreans of all faiths, socioeconomic and political divides residing in the greater environ were present. There was the PFDJ diehard cadre serving as Abo Daas or floor manager, there was the delay Fithi lady managing the reception counter; and the majority of course would make the “silent.” However, there was no much of politics. Everyone seems to have dedicated this day for Tesfankiel. Tesfankiel passed away some years back, but his smile and steady walks were all present in the atmosphere. It was a reminder that our coming together is just an event away if the right tune is played.
    Second: There was a heavy representation of the Tigray community. It was visible in all divisions of work…in the managing committees, in food preparations, in managing costumes and welbeings of the married couple and its entourage. Of course, the heart of Habesha wedding is Abo Daas or floor managers. They comprised equal number of both communities, Eritrean and Ethiopian. My favorite folksinger Wedi Kokeb was the main artist. I have his CD, and he is amazing. I had met and had a talk with him in a different wedding. I did not ask him this particular question, but I heard it from others that he was from Tigray but grew up Eritrea. His awlo and guayla skills are just amazing. I would say my other favorite folksinger (wedi Tikul) would be impressed by wedi Kokeb. In my opinion he outplays others in awlo, the main artistic course in such occasions.
    Personal reflections:
    When I attend such functions, I do really think an overwhelmingly rewarding feeling of being an Eritrean. My strong conviction that, left alone, these two peoples could sort out their problems. They may be divided politically, but culturally they are a community. That’s true in almost all the border communities of the world. At one point a group of invited guests (they came from a different state to be present in the wedding) were called by the announcer to the floor for drumming. I have never seen/heard such an earth shaking drumming by those talented players. Never. Guess what they were from both communities, but were united in beat of the drum. Four of them appear to be in their late twenties to 40s. And they jump like antelopes. I’m biased about drums. I like everything base. The drums of Tigrigna are single cylindrical, and they serve as base drum in modern drum kit. The rest is filled in by clapping, and now, thanks to modern drum machine, today’s traditional drums are used primarily for their traditional symbol. But believe me, these guys would have outdo any drummer. I asked myself, why do I feel Tigrigna when I hear this drum. Well, I ask myself the same when I hear other Eritrean beats too. This is the funny thing. I have reached an equilibrium where all the beats make the same level of feeling and intensity of that feeling. “I’m truly an Eritrean,” I say to myself. And I really feel that.
    Have a nice labor day.

    • sara

      Dear Mahmuday
      you know, i and many here enjoy your write-ups, why do you have to bring that link to spoil
      this “cool” story. ——-Pls d-link it

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Dear Sara
        Thanks sara, and just for you (cheers everybody else), I will delink it and cover it with a sentence.

        • Bayan Nagash

          Selam kburat aHwatay Mahmud ms Haile TG,

          Reading your well thought out presentations, I am afraid I will have to not only truncate them, at least in my head, not for lacking substance nor for brevity’s sake, but superimposing some of your thoughts serves as a metaphor in how both in your own way are superimposing 50 years of marginalization of the lowlanders (per Mahmud’s admission) with the Tigrinya’s 15 year-old-one (per my contention).

          My contention that both of you are not only sidestepping this glaring fact: That Tigrinya marginalization came to the fore only in the aftermath of the 1998 – 2000 war with Ethiopia. Prior to that, everything was hanky dory as the Tigrinya hegemony was taking root, unabated at that. Whether it was systematic or not the hegemony was going full speed and full force. Again, Ahmed Raji’s (2009) data gives us a glimpse of that hegemonic train track, a trajectory that was aborted by accident of an unfortunate event.
          I am ready to admit now that the power of hegemony in Eritrea has become one of the casualties of war, but how we handle it in the future of Eritrea is of paramount of importance. The reason I am intensely interested in you two is because I see you both as two individuals who disassociated from a system that has gone awry and as two individuals who decided to do the right thing by their people by disbanding from the regime that was bent out of shape to destroy the Eritreans dream, culture, and the idea of Eritrea altogether.
          As two individuals who believed in some aspects of PFDJ’s political project in the past, it is more likely to find eclectic arrays of perspectives and loci, in the DNA of political sequence, if you like of Eritrea.
          Let me try to speak in HTG’s terms, the within-group variance in ideological terms in any political project, namely the PFDJ party is likely to be writ larger than the variance between one party and another (if we consider ELF as one and EPLF
          another). As such, I value greatly in the positions people in your station take, if that make sense at all.
          If you follow my thread of thinking and you agree with it, then the question becomes this: How does one group that began to experience the wrath of marginalization only since 2007 asks for an alliance with a group that was marginalized since 1967? The rational question that the latter would ask is how are we supposed to work with you to unseat the regime, when the very regime that you want us to fight against favored you, and you never bothered to repatriate us from Sudan when you could have, we were not even in your radar? How is this alignment supposed to work? How is this tango dance supposed to be conducted without a conductor’s basic control of movements that would make the dance seamless. That is the crux of the matter gentlemen: The marginalized Eritreans are not saying we won’t fight the regime; they have been doing that for quite a
          long time, longer than those of you who have come only 15 years ago and less.
          The worst part is that most of those who are fighting the regime now tooth and nail are the very ones who were instrumental in the marginalization of the very group that they wish now to align with. Can’t you see the irony in that? I can hear you screaming, solution, solution please, enough of endless questions.
          This may not be the best or the only solution but I firmly believe it is a beginning of one proposal at its nascence; for there to be one huge conference of reconciliation through discourse and dialogue. The best way forward is for these marginalized groups to come up with their collective demands and for the Tigrinya side to listen and amalgamate those demands and combine the two to come up with a united force that will go a long ways in the demise of the common enemy at the home front. Build on this paragraph if you agree with its premise or destroy it through your respective sharp pens.

          kbret yhaballay,


          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dear Bayan
            Thanks for the reply. I do firmly believe that we are blessed with understanding citizens who have no problem reaching out to each other whenever and wherever the space is readied in such a way they are able to discuss their concerns openly and without political traders. I think where we disagree is on how to create such a space. I do have full confidence in your academic approach. I will try to have you see it from its practicality. As I have tried to make it known in my previous exchanges, I consider myself benefited by discussing these items with both of you and the rest. I know I have severe limitations in this area. Honestly, even years of living in the west could not totally change us. But I believe in honest exchanges of experience. Every day is a learning day. It’s funny that the definitions of diversity within the communities where I live and within its western conception is easy for me. I live it everyday. However, how I see it within an Eritrean context is still unsettled. So, whatever I will say will be in relation to the recognition of our past collective sacrifices, our past collective choices, and the reality ahead that demands unity in order to effectuate a positive change in our beloved Eritrea. In this critical juncture, positive attitudes and methodologies are needed. I know you are for it but you are saying it should not be done at the expense of the marginalized. I will build on my theme that says PFDJ Eritrea is not a measuring stick for us to declare that we have reached a critical point where we should re-frame the struggle as All Versus Tigrigna. I will ask if this would also mean the departure from our current conception of what the ” opposition” mean. Or if it is a sign of declaring the current organizational patterns of the opposition ineffective (failure). My understanding is the current efforts for change include the concerns raised in your articles and comments. Some founders and spokespersons of the ELL, for instance, were active in the opposition. The EDA comprises long standing organizations that made their existence on similar concerns. Anyway, I will see how concisely I can respond.
            Good night brother.

    • Fanti Ghana

      Hello PM Mahmud,

      Wow! I had similar “amazing feelings” at a wedding this past June. The couple are both Eritreans with stories to tell. She is a Sawa runaway who travelled through Brazil to Columbia to Mexico (mostly on foot) to California. He is an orphan since childhood who grew up in Addis Ababa with relatives. They light a room with their personality. What a match they are. At the wedding, every guest seemed special. The bride is Blin, so there were traditionally dressed Blin men and women who were a sight to behold when they dance. Even the youngsters were amazing, traditional, modern, tastefully crazy, and playful. I have never witnessed this many guests having the same exact feelings about that event.

      I was as happy as I would be on my own wedding that evening. Even the songs were carefully selected to include old cultural songs from both sides of Mereb and lots and lots of Amharic and Blin which seemed to unite every guest perfectly. One guest who was sharing a table with me commented: “I think they purposely invited closet dancers only from Eritrea and Ethiopia, because they are extremely playful and loving souls themselves.” I couldn’t agree more. I have never seen an entire wedding guests getting up at the same time to dance until that day.

      I feel you brother. There are days that remind us to review our lives through a different shade of light. That evening was mine!

    • Bayan Nagash

      Dear Brother Mahmud,

      When I read your entry I didn’t even bother to open the link because I was not in a mood to sour the upbeat mood I was in as I enveyed you being in an area of the U.S. where Eritreans were having a little fun, fun that seems to be in short supply.Then, came sara’s comment about d’linking the link, now that got me up to speed to open the link, boy, oh boy!

      This is the problem of immense proportions for great many Eritreans, they could never bring themselves to see a Muslim Eritrean without that tag of religion. You’re never just Mahmud, you are the Muslim, albeit redundantly, because the name itself is comes connoted with such an identity. However, when you and I see, say, the name Hiwet, Tsehai, Mihret, Andebirhan, Ande Meskel, we see life, sun, mercy, Abdu al Nur, Abdul Mesih, respectively.

      The most disheartening aspect to the piece you shared is penned, gathering from my friends in the vicinity where this Rezene guy lives, by former ELF tegadaly who would rail about how we should all work hard to bring our Eritrean Muslims, there that tagline again, sometimes in front of the name sometimes following the name… there no less, but you get the point.

      It turns out those are the people who pretend to care about their counterparts, who would flip on you in a blink of any eye to become your enemy. It was a shock for those who worked with him closely. I really couldn’t stomach to finish the whole piece, I only needed to read the first two paragraphs to know that this piece belong to a trash bin as sara said, but then again, it needs to be read by all Eritreans, especially, by those for whom he is a representative sample.

      Speaking of sampling and all, I wonder how representative of a sample the author’s mindset is. In other words, how many Eritreans really think this way when the “roof is not leaky” and when the doors are made sound proof, if you will? When people feel safe and secure and that their words would not be shared, is this how they see Eritrean Muslim, a potential walking grenades. My friend, Haile TG, would probably say that this is an isolated case, as such wouldn’t even make it to the sampling let alone to speak of it in statistical terms -:) It is all good, HTG. I am just nudging you here because you’re one of the good hearted Eritreans (see I managed to use the name without needing to add a tagline) to whom I feel a certain sense of freedom to nudge a little.

      So, brother Mahmud, no need to despair. Eritrean Muslims are coming out in droves, soon, not as this dude who seems to be craving for attention is making it out to be, but these will be Eritreans who care about Eritrea and, by golly, they will need nobody’s approval to address the issues that concerns Eritrea and Eritreans. As my dear friend from formative years would say, it is time the invitation phenomenon turned on its head that we invite ourselves to the cause we believe in – True Dat!

      • sara

        Dear Mr. Bayan
        the song really depicts the situation,but we should not loose hope there are more things about/of Eritreans which is not promulgated enough in this forum that will keep our light beaming.

      • haileTG

        Merhaba Haw Beyan,

        The classical opposition driver issues are bread and butter, human rights and human dignity. We all witnessed bouts of narratives that tried to hijack such a simplistic and straightforward case into something it is not, in order to use it for bargaining power. That didn’t yield but viewed as a whole, slowed down the natural conclusion of our nation’s problems.

        Some wished to redefine the classical opposition driver issues to appear as:

        1 – The problem with our history, thus asked us to renounce ghedli and all sacrifices

        2 – The problem with our unity, thus asked us to break apart and lose the country

        3 – The problem of oppressed Muslims, thus asked us to castigate, attack and undermine the highland/christian part of population

        All these and more have come and hit a dead end. That in itself is proof enough that the only way forward is to ensure the integrity of the classical opposition driver issues as outlined above.

        In Eritrea, there is no widespread, systematic and targeted abuse against Muslims alone. The COIE didn’t even mention anything remotely like that, none of the refugees fleeing ever tell you they were fleeing Muslim oppression, none of the proponents of hegemony of highlanders brought a case to be filed with the on going two pronged human rights investigations. None of the Islamist organizations found traction to launch successful opposition of the alleged oppression only targeting Muslims.

        PFDJ is Muslim and christian alliance of criminals, they don’t represent the respective masses. Our Muslim Christian issue of one of integration problem. Nation building has been abandoned due to the nation falling into the hands of an organized crime syndicate called PFDJ. Hence, the social progress in building harmony and fair society was thwarted.

        Thus, the correct way would have been to adhere faithfully to the classical opposition driver issues as bread and butter, human rights and human dignity, and give peace and development a chance. Out of which all issues could have been settled legally and morally. The power struggle that is being waged on the back of such natural societal dividing lines lacks integrity and evidencing reality on the ground.

        When such conflicts are fomented purely for advancing small group interests, they would hardly achieve their goals, because their goals imaginary to begin with, and often involve losses to all sides.

        Let’s ask the question that why such oppression hasn’t registered on the radars when an over investigated regime is literally turned upside down and frisked. It shows it is a brain child of few elites who have put that ahead of what should and must have been a priority, i.e to do all that one can to secure the safety of a common country.

        With Respect

  • Hayat Adem

    Aha, VF:
    How did I miss that? I guess my joke cells are in a vacation. Good to know we both are at wave-length.

  • Hayat Adem

    Dear Excellency,
    You said: “Heroes are heroes only in the minds of those who believe in the mission for which those heroes are recognized for. If you don’t believe on the mission which made Awate, you don’t have to bother yourself on understanding him.” I say, that is too mechanical and exclusionist. Your are losing your edge again after your finest month.
    The whole talk is among the believers, the non-believers and those in between. The convinced believers must explain their rallying torch and its bearers to the other two groups in the hope that one day they too get it like them. The betweeners always ask both groups (believers and non-believers) questions that help them make their mind to end up joining one of them. The non-believers try explain their side and why they think it is a wrong torch. You can’t expect them to glorify the bearers of the wrong torch. But the discussion has to go on and there will be people moving from one box to the other.
    You are saying so long us the believers felt glorifying their hero, the other side has nothing to do with it, and vice versa. The same logic dictates so long us the non-believers wanted to explain the “wrong” mission, the believers of the mission have nothing to do with it. The mission impacts both the believers and the non-believers, or everyone in between. All of them should be allowed to speak their minds in good faith to expand commonness over every national issue.
    You have gone unnecessarily to a great length to say many unfair, incorrect foggy statements in your note above. It sounds a very angry defense. Please stay cool and sharp and don’t be carried away by the urge to score for there is nothing personal here. Also, I wish you don’t invoke your tegadaly card every time a non-tegadalit/ly asks serious questions. For me, “you don’t know it; you don’t feel it, you don’t live it” type of defenses are weak. What experience you have must be explainable and understandable. And what good is a mission if it can’t be explained and understood.

    • Mahmud Saleh

      Salam Gual Adem
      I’m cool, but serious. How about that. So, the logic is simple if you get where I am coming from. I am not objecting your right to portray the date of ghedli (aka Semptember 1, 1961; or BaHti meskerem, or alfateH men sebtember, or ye Ertra ye jegnoch Qen…)
      1. I am objecting to your audacious demand that we prove to you why we celebrate that day, why we say Awate is Eritrea’s hero as a pioneering man who took the struggle leaps forward. I’m simply saying we don’t have to prove to few individuals who failed to disprove a narration that has been going on for 30 years and which culminated in the establishment of a nation by a vote of more than 99.9%; there is no mopre proof than the fact that Eritreans of different political stipes do come together almost ONLY on this fact. Guess what, they disagree bitterly in the process of ghedli itself; they disagree in the way referendum was proposed and carried out; they disagree in the nature of the government; in what Eritrea’s future goivernment should look like; on what Eritrea’s future relations with its neighbors should look like….But they almost all agree that Awate is an Eritrean hero. What else do you need? Actually, I don’t want to burden you with a demand that byou can’t possibly meet, otherwise, I should be the one asking you to disprove this narration that went for 54 years without a significant deviation in its trajectory. So if you read my previous answer within this spirit you will see I’m logically consistent. You have the right to say whatever you want to say. I don’t get irritated by your statements. You can’t say more disparaging and bashing than what you have said since I have started reading you. Eritrea is not a glass, it’s more formidable than you think it is.
      Your opponents/proponents and betweeners…is hopefully answered above. Bear in your mind, though, Awate is not being introduced to new audience. I can discuss nitty-gritty details with someone who has a common ground with me. For instance Eritreans still debate about the processes that lead ti independence. That could be done because they have a common ground of the belief that there was a cause that propellled Awate. However, I don’t see that common ground with you. On this issue each of us is seperate on two parallel planes. So, any discussion is not going to be fruitful. You believe what you believe just don’t ask us to prove to you what we believe is true. What we are saying has been narrated for 5 more than decades and there is consensus among Eritreans on it. Now, it’s your turn to disprove it.
      2. On the tegadalay card: Please don’t play victim. I’m modest. I don’t care what people think of it. I have done what I set to do. My personal mission stopped in 1993 when the referendum was done. I have never looked back. It is liberating to live a private life. I don’t wish tegadalay life for everyone, but I don’t regert it. I have a personal commitment that the mission those gallant comrades fell for is not tarnished. This is part of that responsibility.
      I said Eritrean life, not tegadalat life. And it is true. If you lived Eritrean life in the 50s, 60s and 70s, you would know there was a cause to fight for. I remember my mother caught in dilema between picking either of us when we fled in different directions as bullets hailed on us; I rememeber the massacres, I remember the humuliation my father and uncles were going through at the hands of occupying army…and you tell me there was a chance Eritreans could have done it peacefully. If you lived in the seventies in Eritrea you would see lowlands villages had already been erased by Haileselassie, and Mengistu started erasing the highlands…
      It’s just too naive to even contemplate that the King that had gassed his people in cooperation with British in 1943 in Tigray would be gentle enough to entertain Eritrean demands. What would Yeebio Weldai say to you?
      3. I chastized my son last year to stay cool, and never lose his edge…that hi had had a fine semister…when I saw him a bit serious. He replied “Dad, I am an adult. Don’t treat me like a teenager. We are discussing serious stuff and I better be serious.”
      Have a wonderful day.

  • Kim Hanna

    Selam Semere Andom,
    In short, I have read the different Eritrean Muslim leader’s statements prior to Federation at the U.N and elsewhere. Federation is a compromised position for them. (Highlanders wanted a union.) To stay away from Ethiopia was their primary choice. Even Italy was preferable.
    If you can read Amharic, I recommend you read “Ye Ertra Guday” by Zewde Reta. As far as I am concerned that is a definitive book about the whole episode.
    Anyone can throw aspersions about the book or the author but it is a well researched book.

  • Peace!

    Dear Pass the salt,

    Yes, she is funny sometimes. But what I don’t really understand is that why promoting Eritrean identity and history gives her a migraine? She is good at bashing PFDJ just to have other say yes PFDJ is far more terrible than Haileselassie or Derg, not to create awareness and galvanize Eritreans to form a united front to fight for justice. And what’s even more funny is that every time she does that, one of the EPRDF apologists pop out and say, Brilliant Hayat it is just the stupid ARABS.


  • Amanuel Hidrat


    Please read the “degree of decentralization” on “three dimensions of decentralization” (fiscal, administrative, and political) of all the countries that have “decentralized government” including USA by the way. The link I am going to present to you is an article from Harvard education, a researched paper by Aaron Schnieder, and the title: Decentralization: conceptualization and measurements. You don’t have to read the whole article if you don’t want. But please give some glance to the charts in the appendix towards the end of the paper. That will do my argument. Actually you will be surprised that there are few countries more decentralized than USA on all dimension of decentralization.


    Amanuel Hidrat

    • saay7

      Selamat Emma:

      Thanks. My only point of contention with you is a line you keep repeating that a “Federal State is a Unitary State.” No, it is not. This is not semantics because when we are discussing Eritrea, the first question we need to resolve is whether you are for Federalism or Unitary State. There is a caveat: a unitary state can be MORE decentralized than a Federal state. The UK is a Unitary state but its decentralization allows Scotland to hold a referendum to secede. The USA is a Federal state, but it went to war to prevent secession.

      Now, lets talk about your vision for Eritrea and why you think it is the best solution for our people. I will do likewise. Of course, the best part is when awatistas join and shred our arguments. I am looking forward to the chastisement from somebody, that what we are doing is analogous to the couple arguing about where they are going to tether the goat after they buy it. (Goat, abi, not cows: so leave Ted alone.)


      • Ted

        Hi Saay, did you know the cow analogy is coming your way.
        ላም አለኝ በስማይ ወተቶን የማላይ
        Now you it is out, you can converse with Amanuel what might work for Eritrea.

        • saay7

          Hi Ted:

          My god I hadn’t heard that in forever. You are a mean, mean person:) Here are more optimistic/sympathetic references to Abi’s cows:

          1. ላሜ ቦራ የልጆቼን ነገር አደራ
          2. ላም ቀንዱን አይከብዳትም

          There was also one about the cow who gave birth to fire but I think they borrowed that from the Greeks. It sounds too Greek mythological to me. I say that just so I can hear a lecture from Abi how the Greeks stole their civilization from Ethiopia and, hell yeah, he has a link to that:)


          • Eyob Medhane


            Heck yeah the Greeks have stolen everything from us. 🙂

            How do you think the name Athiopis =Aethiopica=Ethiopia came about?

            You want a link?

            Here it is… 🙂


          • saay7


            Beqa? You have officially embraced “throw it against the wall and see what sticks”?


          • Eyob Medhane


            Do I have to explain everything for you? The link is one the most famous Greek mythology novels that is set up in Ethiopia based on Homer’s take on Ethiopia. So, what I am trying to show with this link is that Greeks took everything from us…and Americans went to the moon and Russians went to space based on Zera Yaqob’s philosophy on Astronomy… You just don’t get it, do you?

            You want the link for that, too? Here it is… 🙂 🙂 -:)


          • saay7

            Haha Eyobai:

            This reminds me: remember that time that I wrote that Lalibela was built by aliens and you had an Eyobquake that registered 9.5 on the Abi scale? Ah, good times.



          • Eyob Medhane


            I told you so. You just didn’t believe me. No aliens, no knight Templars no Portugese….Lalibela and all of our other wonders were built by us, ETHIOPIANS, with our bare hands… 🙂 Score = Eyob 10,000 Sal 0… 🙂

          • Ted

            Hi Eyob,
            Ferngi to think it was made by aliens not man shows the sophistication and ingenuity of your Lalibela people of Ethiopia. Add extra 0 to your score,

          • Saleh Johar

            You just committed a sin: w’at essat weldet… is a Tigrayet saying… Greeks or no Greeks, every other translation is just a pirated and plagiarized copy. 🙂

          • Eyob Medhane

            Gash Saleh,

            I was just talking about you.

            Congratulations. You got me this time GOOD!

            It’s my fault. To refute Sal, I gave myself up with a silver platter to you…

            Weyne… 🙂

          • Saleh Johar

            Good one Eyob,

            I just read your comment. But seriously, Saay might tell you to dip yourself in a barrel of y’tebareke waha in Qulubi to cure of that minor malady you have 🙂

            I don’t think you are that bad and to prove it, I will recommend for you two books by Daniel J. Boorstin, “The Creators” and “The Discoverers” They will open your eyes to many things. In fact, try to read as much as you can from the over a dozen amazing books by Boorstin. Being a history buff, I have read a few of his books and now I am reading “The Seekers.” You will thank me for that if you haven’t read him. In between you can read “Lemma Begebeya” I am sure you can borrow a copy from Abi, it is a rare book. You can also see if Fanti has the bourgeois book “Madam Debonfoit” 🙂

          • Eyob Medhane

            Gash Saleh,

            I was just sitting here..minding my own business and a bright idea came to mind.

            How could I make Gash Saleh REALLY mad?

            Well I found this 2 interesting clips to show you.

            One about 2 minutes and the other about a minute…

            Please enjoy.. 🙂



          • Ted

            Hi SJ,
            Look what Eyob digged out what Ethiopians don’t want to know.

            Eyob, you will see your “favorite” people at 24; 00.
            PS. this will be a crash course to some stubborn Ethiopians so as save us a great deal of time schooling them about Eritrea.

          • Eyob Medhane


            Are you kidding me? I ain’t gonna watch an hour and half video. That’s breaking the rule. Two minutes, max six…that is the rule constituted by Sal.. 🙂

          • saay7

            Hey Ted:

            That’s called the Eyob shuffle. My recommendation (not rule) is that when people introduce a video, the tell their readers what it’s about, who it’s by and how long it is. So in this case you would say it’s a documentary by French journalist Jean Louis Peninou and it has many rare scenes including interviews with Ibrahim Sultan and Woldeab Woldemariam.

            Good luck Ethiopia on ur football match with Seychilles. I hear Kokhob Selams nephew is playing. Btw when Eyob wrote 10,000:1 I thought he was talking the odds of Walia winning. Kidding kidding.


          • Saleh Johar

            Eyob, I get mad that easy?

            Any way, I watched those in U-Matic format long before Youtube was born, Your bright idea is very bright indeed 🙂

          • saay7


            A thousand pardons. It’s Saturday, so this clip of “A Fish Called Wanda” expresses my view to the Tigrayit-speakers for giving their proverb (about the cow who gave birth to fire: couldn’t lick it because it would burn, couldn’t leave it alone because it was an offspring) to Ethiopians and Greeks:



      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Dear Saay

        Continue with your argument that US is not “decentralized unitary government ” and I will argue with defining each word in the phraseology I quoted. Just debate without sarcastic Posturing as a tool to kill the Opposite argument. Let us only reflect our view and understanding on the concept and how we apply them to our reality. I will argue ” Federalism ” is one kind of “Decentralized unitary government.” Keep the Phrase intact together when you debate . Do not make us look by our readers as a parallel debater. In our previous debate while I am arguing on decentralized unitary government you were Arguing on unitary government purposely omitting the word ” centralized “. Give me a plenty of time I will come with an article hoping to do on your side.

        Amanuel Hidrat

        • saay7

          Selamat Emma:

          Of course I will give you plenty of time, all the time you need. Please use some of that time to research why you should NOT argue why “federalism is one of kind of decentralized unitary government.” Not for my sake, for the sake of the children. Here’s why:

          In response to your last article “Eritrea’s Prospect: Joining the League of Hybrid Nations”, Professor Tes wrote something remarkable that got completely ignored because we were in Geneva mode then. He said that, contrary to the stereotype of the YPFDJ being a bunch of ignoramus, they are heavily armed by the PFDJ Central Office…Well, let me quote him precisely:

          “Eritreans are searching for sophisticated ideals so that they can be uplifted. Many youth like me back home are (those who got a chance to join even to existing colleges) are contantly brainwashed by books spread from the central office of PFDJ.

          “Books written by well known writers like Iqbal Ahmed, Hantigton, and many likes who criticize Imperialism and New World Order are every where in Eritrea. This is the reason (as per my observation) many young people simply laugh when opposition leaders or writers talk about democracy and equity based governance. The youth are purposefully brainwashed through books that counter argue capitalism and globalization.”

          He goes on to say:

          “Ask to any recent immigrant who finished college. he will laugh at you if you try to speak him about democracy and likes simply not because he doesn’t understand but he is heavy armed to challenge you. The same goes to YPFDJ. These youth read high level of political arguments to make their stance accepted. PFDJ is investing heavily in theorizing the youth.”

          In short, since 2001 (after the end of its flirtation with neo-liberalism from 1991-2000) the PFDJ has been arguing that its vision is a strong, centralized, unitary, developmental state that pursues an independent political and economy policy free from the constraints of “hegemonic powers.” It has been doing more than that: it has been taking pre-emptive strikes against Federalism and decentralization by saying that those who advocate it are going to disintegrate the country (a common criticism of all decentralized forms governance.) The PFDJ has presented itself as a multi-cultural, multi-faith organization that is about delivering social services (education, healthcare, energy, clean water) to all Eritreans with a special emphasis on the rural and the marginalized.

          And, since 2001, those in the opposition who advocate decentralization–and that’s virtually the entire Eritrean opposition from EPDP to RSADO–have made arguments WHY that decentralization is a better option for Eritrea’s long-term unity and sustainable co-existence. That without decentralization, a country is likely to have a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few over-representing a certain ethnicity or religious group. But, for a number of reasons–some good, some bad–it has not been able to frame this discussion in any other way except theoretical or to completely avoid the subject. That is: it cannot say, “well, the PFDJ vision of highly-centralized unitary state has been given a try: what has it wrought?” because of the trap set by the PFDJ: if you say, “what it has resulted in is a concentration of power and wealth to one ethnic group and the marginalization of all others” then you are going to antagonize that particular ethnic group which doesn’t exactly feel that it is the beneficiary of the PFDJ regime and, in fact, feels it is disproportionately being victimized by it after it paid its disproportionate share to make the damn country independent. If you don’t say it, then you are going to antagonize those who feel marginalized and they continue to be suspicious that you are just a smooth talker but in the end you will just replace PFDJ and install your own exclusionary hegemony.

          Theories are good–our YNONPFDJ need theoretical underpinning to their beliefs. But it must always relate to Eritrea as it is right now.


          • AOsman

            Dear Aman and SAAY,

            Last time you touched upon the subject, then you did not develop the debate further. I was looking forward to learn about the options available for Eritrea post DIA. Nair Fesseha had some articles on the topic, one that I picked up from google follows:



          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Merhaba Aosman,

            That is what I am intending to do, a continuation of my article ” The contours of change and the equilibrium of its parts” a full dedication to “accommodation and stability of our nation.”

            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Selamat Abu Affan:

            THAT’s what I am talking about: thank you! I was actually looking for Fessha Nair’s article to use it as an example of what an article should be like–focused on Eritrea and its make up–and headed to Gabeel.com (EFDM’s website)…which hasn’t been updated since September 2014: a year ago. To my knowledge, EFDM is the only political organization which has actually taken the trouble to provide a detailed vision of its alternative. I am not sold about federalism, but I really appreciate that they at least have a vision that they intellectually defend instead of “this is what should happen because I am entitled to it.”

            Now, if you look at this map of Eritrea, the actual topographical map of Eritrea, it is clear that “lowland” is not literal: it is a political word. Much of what is described as “lowland” is actually highland:)


            This is why this is relevant. In the macro-economic policy of Eritrea (the one that is in Isaias Afwerki’s head, and available ONLY when he gives year-end interviews) segments Eritrea into vertical slices:

            1. The Red Sea Coastal Area
            2. The highlands: including the northern highlands which are never called highlands (Nakfa, Karora, Afabet, Keren..)
            2. The Western plains

            I can imagine somebody like Fisseha Nair challenging the above Isaias vision…in accessible writing. I can’t imagine anybody else doing it. If you look at the EPDP program, it says, wait, this is what it says:

            Well aware of the plurality of cultures and traditions in the Eritrean setting, EPDP believes that decentralizing and spreading power down to the provinces, districts, sub-districts and villages will prevent the concentration of state power and wealth in the hands of a few, a phenomenon which can jeopardize national unity. In order to apply decentralized administration, the following must be fulfilled: a) proper socio-economic and historical/geographical study on the condition of the settlements; b) the willingness of the people to create the new administrative divisions; c) and approval of the plan by constitutionally established organs of the state. Until then, EPDP shall support the continuation of the administrative divisions/provinces that existed before the independence of the country.


            That’s: we would like to go back to 1991:)


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saay,

            The argument is between non-affiliated to the political organizations (me and you) – on what should be our role in helping the opposition camp and by extension to the Eritrean people to give them a clear vision as to what kind “structural government” will hold our mosaic together and accommodate to the grievances ventilated by our social groups. So let us leave aside in analyzing the views of others, but contribute to the possible solutions to resolve the “stand off” of our society on two opposite ends. Let us argue on the merits and demerits of the different structural government and how they will be applicable to resolve the internal conflicts of our people.

            Second you have said “It has not [the opposition] able to frame this discussion in any other way except theoretical.” You are right about it. But isn’t it because they failed to frame their vision that they are in a circus of accusing each other and couldn’t provide a leadership to tackle the nation’s problem and address the predicament of our people? Really, I didn’t see a solution to their grievances from your side other than critiquing them. To criticize is okay, but not enough until you give them the alternative solution that could give them equitable sharing in a crystal clear to understand your remedy.

            Amanuel Hidrat

  • saay7

    Selamat Music Novice:

    I know where you are going with this:) But I am sure you have heard of A/B testing: if, by showing lack of freedom/democracy/prosperity you mean to show that guerrilla warfare is futile (results of A test) then you have to show that ABSENCE of guerrilla warfare yields freedom/democracy/prosperity (results of B test.) And, clearly, you can’t show that so…on to topic 2.

    The liberators (I prefer that word over foot soldiers/cannon fodder) in the guerrilla armies were promised the right to self-determination: that they would be giving future generation of Eritreans the right to determine their future, without the interference of Ethiopian kings and other assorted foreign tyrants*. That’s exactly what they delivered. It is unfortunate (but not unique or exceptional to Eritrea) that we chose to have a tyrant rule over us.


    * hey, HTG, I am slowly building up the case of “Why The Silent Majority Is Silent”. One of their questions is: how is self-determination if you invited unself to determine our future?

    • Music Novice

      GreetingMs saay,

      “futile” is a subjective term. My observation is related to facts. Third World Guerrilla movements do not deliver what they promise. They start with mayhem and end up in mayhem.

      I did not and would not claim that “ABSENCE of guerrilla warfare yields freedom/democracy/prosperity” always. This could be sometimes true. But, my claim is based on a limited subject i.e. Third World Guerrilla outfits end result.

      In any case, everything is a game of war between elites. The elites initiate a fight, but the cannon fodder pay. There is a Russian Jewish saying, which goes as follows: ‘The Trotskys say, but the Davidovichs pay”. [Trotsky was Lev Davidovich Bronstein].

      • saay7

        Hey MN:

        “Third world guerrilla movements do not deliver what they promise.” This is not as clear-cut as you think. Guerilla movements existed BEFORE the world was divided into First, Second and Third World. But they were given fancy names then: war of independence, national insurgency, revolution. This is a point that was made by Sudan’s Turabi in the 1980s when he was a rising star: that the West has perfect the art of creating dismissive and glorifying terms.

        The people who invented “guerrilla movement”–the Chinese–would certainly disagree with you that guerrilla movements don’t work. The US War of Independence against the Brits was a guerrilla movement. But wait, by “Third World”, I am thinking you really want to focus me on Africa (not even Latin America or Asia:) I think Zimbaweans are not sitting there–no matter their disappointment with Mugabe–thinking: our guerrilla movement didn’t work.

        WIth my A/B testing, what I was saying is that you would have to show that had we stayed with Ethiopia–and not ever had an Awate Day–our qualify of life would have been much better. And there simply isn’t a case study you can point to in Black Africa where, due to absence of guerrilla “separatist” movement, the country delivered freedom, democracy, prosperity. Thus, you cannot blame “guerrilla warfare” for the absence of those in sub-Saharan Africa.

        Well, the “Russian Jews”, notwithstanding all their sayings, are benefiting from the guerrilla warfare of the Zionists against the British empire (the King David Hotel bombing.) Without that, there wouldn’t be Israel, and without Israel, the Russian Jews would have been exterminated. So, most proverbs are dumb:)


        • Music Novice

          Greetings saay,

          Failed Third World guerrilla movements: China, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Algeria, Peru, Bolivia, Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia and many more in the pipeline. Promises not fulfilled!

          I brought the example of a saying by Russian Jews only to illustrate the fact that ordinary people pay a price for a folly started by the elite. Nothing more; definitely not issues related to King David Hotel bombing.

          I do not have to show whether the quality of life in Eritrea would have been better had it opted to stay with Ethiopia; which I did not claim in the first place. I am only observing the end results of guerrilla movements, observing the wheels of history turn.

          You only need to give one counter example to disprove my assertion.

          • saay7

            Hey Music Novice:

            The burden of proof is on you. Since you are blaming guerrilla movements for the absence of freedom, prosperity and democracy then you have to point out to at least ONE example of sub Saharan African country which had no guerrilla movement and was able to get freedom, prosperity, and democracy. Failing that (and you will) then you have to remove the cause-and-effect that you are trying to establish. In any event, guerrilla movements are not about freedom, prosperity and democracy. They are about independence and the right to make their own decisions because they argue they can make better choices than whoever is lording over them.

            The wheels of motion in every endeavor in the world are set by the elite. Whether that’s religion, politics, arts or science. In the example I gave you: because the elite zionists had the foresight to think of a homeland, the “common people” –the Jewery that were dispersed all over the world for centuries– eventually were spared extinction. If all the religious minorities in Iraq and Syria had an elite that had a similar foresight, they wouldn’t be facing extinction now. (I recommend the book “In Defense of Elitism”.)


          • Music Novice

            Greetings saay,

            I think there is a misunderstanding in this dialogue.

            I am not “blaming” guerrilla movements. ‘Blame’ is a value judgement. For example, I do not blame two pieces of matter exerting a gravitational pull on each other (with ref. to the Newtonian model). What I am saying is that third world guerrilla movements by their very nature end up in dictatorship and not democracy. This will also apply to those opposition guerrilla movements who are hoping to overthrow Isaias.

            The Russian Jewish saying example is also misunderstood. Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Kaganovich are the elite communists, but it is the poor ghetto dwelling Jew who got the blame for being a communist. On the other extreme, it is the rank and file Jew who gets blamed as a greedy banker for the activities of elite banking families such the Rothschilds. In fact some people didn’t have a problem saying there is a conspiracy of Jewish communists and Jewish bankers, ignoring the fact that these two sections are mutually exclusive; and as usual it is the rank and file that pays the price.

            In the Eritrean context, Isaias has been faithful to the true aim of his guerrilla movement. It is the G15 who got confused and reneged.

            The fact that Third-World guerrilla movements end up in dictatorship is clear for everyone to see by looking at the countries I listed earlier. So, you need to provide at least one example of a Third- World guerrilla movement that brought freedom and democracy, to disprove my conjecture.

          • saay7

            Hey MN:

            ok, Take 3.

            1. Guerrilla Movements & Freedom/Prosperity/Democracy

            Remember, when you first mentioned “happy ending” I told you to define it and you did by saying “freedom, prosperity and democracy”? You keep changing the goal post. We were looking at the relationship between “guerrilla and movements” and “lack of freedom, prosperity, democracy.” (FPD) Now, you have defined it to “guerrilla movements” and “dictatorship.” Can we exhaust the first one, before we redefine it? Let’s try math. Remember the exercises on “domain” and “range”? Let’s take this exercise for these paired sets:

            {(7, -5) (8, -5) (12, -5) (-210, -5) (1961, -5)}

            Now, in these pairs, the domain is the x value: 7, 8, 12, -210, 1961. The range is y value: -5

            Now replace 7 by “guerrilla movements”; 8 by “peaceful movements”; 12 by “multiparty system” and -5 by “lack of freedom,democracy, prosperity”

            Therefore, y is NOT a function of x. The output (lack of freedom, democracy and prosperity) is not predicated on the input (guerrilla movements.) So, not only is there not causality, there is not even a relationship. Mathematically speaking.

            2. The Elite

            From math, let’s go to sports. Football season started, so let’s use it as an example. If you tell me that you went to watch a game and there were a lot of injuries. I would assume that the injured were not the coaches, the referee or the audience. I would assume that it was the players.

            That is because they are the ones in the field. So, yes, conflict is mostly a game of elites. But so is finding a solution for the conflict: game of elites. So is avoiding conflict: game of elites. In fact, even naming a conflict a conflict and not a clash; a skirmish not a battle; a battle not a war; a World War when it is a War of the Rich…finding a cure for AIDS, finding a cure for cancer, causing enrionmental disaster, sending a satellite thousands of miles above the earth’s atmosphere to take beautiful pictures of the disaster…the people that created the infrastructure we are using to communicate right now, the NSA eavesdropping on it….all of it is the game of the elite. They own the world; we just live here.


          • Music Novice

            Greeting saay,

            In the first instance I will correct a small mistake you committed.

            {(7, -5) (8, -5) (12, -5) (-210, -5) (1961, -5)} is definitely a function i.e. a constant function.

            In any case, what you are saying is that lack of democracy can be the result of any kind of movement, not only the result of guerrilla movement. I gree.

            But my conjecture that guerrilla movements result in unhappy ending i.e. a broken promise of freedom, prosperity and democracy has not been proven wrong.

          • saay7

            Selamat MN:

            Some guerrilla movements resulted in freedom, prosperity and democracy (United States, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, ….) and some haven’t (sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia…) There is something else at play, and this is the one that makes the most sense to me. (Remember you asking me whether I envisioned a ‘western-style democracy’ in Eritrea or Ethiopia?)


            The lines you cited are from one of my favorite songs (Us And Them) from one of my all-time fave bands (Pink Floyd.) The guy who wrote the melody (Richard Wright), the guy who wrote the lyrics (Roger Waters), the guy who sang it (David Gilmore)…all products of elite. Add founding member Syd Barrett and you are practically talking about an aristocracy:)


          • Music Novice

            Greetings saay,

            The USA is outside our frame of reference. It is an offshoot of the Norman-Angle-Saxon (the Teutonic i.e Nordic-Germanic) system. The backbone of the USA was made up of communities who had absorbed the experiences of the Magna Carta, the English Civil War and the English Revolution.

            Similarly, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and the rest in Latin America are also outside the orbit of this discussion, since they are not Maoist or Holy War inspired. But still, these Latin American anti-Royal Spain independence movements were/are all botched. Their pattern goes: rebellion, civil war,
            coup d’etat, counter coup d’etat. They are still going in and out of coma i.e. military dictatorships.

          • saay7

            Selamat MN:

            You are a tough customer. Simon Bolivar was actually a product of not Mao but the Enlightenment era. But I think we may find commonality if you say that it is culture that has the single most impact and there is no civilization that has risen to greatness without transcending the part of the culture that holds it back. The taboo in Eritrea is not criticizing the armed struggle–Ghedli–but criticizing our culture which is romanticized and glorified (bahlna!) It is transcending their culture and history that is allowing Germans to take on refugees who don’t share their religion as those who do–the Saudis, the filthy rich Gulf Arabs–refuse to.

            Excellent choice on soundtrack from Being to Nothingness. This is a question I have asked myself after the I saw The Big Chill (a 1980s movie that everyone should watch) which features the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in the funeral scene: what song would I like played as my dead body is carried to the coffin? (1,001 very religious Muslims just said, “Ustuqfurullah!”) Your choice–Pink Floyd performing live to the ghosts of Pompeii–is not a bad one to move form Being into Nothingness. Although, of course, there is no such thing as Nothingness:)

            When Pink Floyd broke up, I was in the Roger Waters camp. Saw him live at the Los Angeles Forum–yep, the floating pink pig baloon was there–and he played the only song that was performed by all members of Floyd–“Set the Controls to the heart of the sun”–solo, with backup singers. Phew.


          • Music Novice

            Greetings saay,

            It seems we have reached a dead end on matters related to guerrilla movements. But this was a profitable discussion because I found out that someone who considers Pink Floyd to be great can never be a bad person.

            On Roger Waters: I think Roger was responsible for the break up of Pink Floyd. He became pompous, was rude and abusive, in particular, to Rick Wright. The good thing is that he had regretted it.

          • dawit

            Music Novice
            The American Revolution? I am sure it must have been a ‘Third World’ in 1772.

  • saay7

    Mahmuday Nachig:

    Can we find someplace between a local hero and an Ethiopian hero for Hamid Idris Awate. Objectively speaking, the Eritrean armed struggle is considered one of the greatest in African history (if not world history.) And it wasn’t triggered like World War I by some random assassination of an archduke: but by Idris Hamid Awate after long, deliberate discussion with the exiled political leaders of Eritrea (including the president of Eritrea’s parliament.) His strength of personality was so critical to the revolution in its formative years his death was kept a secret for 4 years. I am asking Abi to help me appeal to Afro-American departments at American universities to recognize Awate as one of the greatest revolutionaries. If he can come up with someone as inspiring as Awate in Ethiopian history, I will return the favor:)


  • Music Novice

    Greetings Semere,

    Questions I raised may help you refine and tighten your initial definition of a ‘hero’.