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The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

Socrates, one of the great ancient philosophers, was convicted by a jury in Athens for ‘undermining state religion and corrupting the youth.” His crime was his never ending questions that made people think, reflect and challenge old held beliefs and reasoning. That was too much for some and they wanted to silence him. Hence, he was given choices between exile from his city state, commitment to silence with no philosophical discussions or death. He refused going to exile or abandon his pursuit for the truth. He, therefore, preferred death rather than “living an unexamined life” as he put it.

I have often wondered what he meant by “the unexamined life”. It may be better to ask what is the difference between a human being and an animal, for instance a lion. Their natural instincts are similar. Both human and animal eat, drink, breath, sleep and reproduce. They fight or flee. Their difference is, in my opinion, that a human can think and reason while a lion cannot.  One Iranian student described the difference this way: “God, why have you chastised me with such a terrible deformity, as thinking? Why have you taught me to think, instead of teaching me the humility of cattle!”

What is thinking? Thinking is using one’s conscious mind  to evaluate given situations, reason them out, and make rational decisions.  A thinking person  continuously and periodically evaluates his/her current situation, the desired destination and the strategies to reach it. S/he will then build on the successes and learn from the failures to move forward .

The purpose of this post is to encourage all of us to ask where we stand when it comes to thinking. Do we think? Or are we like the animals responding to our instincts only? Or worse, are we singing the same songs, shouting the same slogans or doing the same things again and again expecting different results?

Life is about movement. Time runs from seconds to minutes to hours and days. There is no stop. Time waits for no-one  and nothing  stays the same.  People as well as political or social entities and countries either progress or regress.  The difference between those who progress and those who regress is the difference of how they use their minds and time. It is the difference between those who think critically and evaluate themselves periodically and those who only complain about others and constantly blame others for everything that happens in their lives. It is the difference between those who look at themselves in the mirror  and reflect on the impact of their thoughts, words and deeds  and those who respond only to their instincts and care about nothing but self-preservation. It is also the difference between those who look at the bigger picture and desire a better world for themselves and others and those who could not see beyond their noses and only pursue their selfish desires, even at the cost of others.

As we embark to commemorate another Independence Day, it would be good to ask ourselves where we are as people at present  and what and where we want to be in the coming years? Our country is  waiting for us, its people.  Hence, let us examine ourselves.

How do we use our time and minds? Do we spend our time educating and developing ourselves and helping others in the process or do we waste our time and energy regurgitating  old grievances  or on online bravados? Do we exercise our minds to ascertain facts on important issues by asking the right questions  (who did or say what, when and why). And what were the role of  hi/story tellers  on the topics they talk about? Or  do we just accept things on face value  and follow blindly  anyone who claims to be “the truth teller”.  Do we reflect at what we say or do not say and their impacts on our lives and the lives of others? Do we keep running away from our own responsibilities  and continue to blame others like the regime at home for everything that goes wrong in our country?

Let us examine ourselves. Why is it that a generation ago Eritreans could capture tanks with Kalashnikov, and give their lives to defend their comrades, compared to the present generation  of whom 10-30 of them could be herded by one Rashaida  tribesman and see their sisters dishonored  and abused in front of their eyes and do nothing? How is it that a generation ago,  Eritreans, in spite of the odds against them, were able to win  against a bigger army supported by the super-powers, while the current generation suffers in silence and looks to others for its own salvation? How is that the generation that fearlessly fought to free Eritrea from the Ethiopian colonization could not raise even their voice let alone their finger against  home grown tyrant who impression, kill and enslave their people? How about the Eritrean intelligentsia, when will you rise up to occasion and help save the nation? As Simon Wiesenthal said, “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.” And as Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Are you not suppose to be the consciousness of your people?

What about our political organizations and civil societies? Whose interest  do you stand for,  the people or yourselves? If it is for the people, how come our people continue to suffer wherever they go with neither solution or hope in sight? Do you ever examine yourselves to ascertain where you were when you started and where you are at present? Can I say that we as a people are better or worse off because of your presence?

On conclusion, I would like to remind myself and each of you that the Eritrean Independence came about as the result of a long and hard struggle and huge sacrifice. More than 60,000 young women and men paid with their lives and thousands more with youth, sweat, blood and body parts. Unfortunately, the Eritrea that we have is not the one they envisioned, a country where its people live in peace, democracy, justice and progress. Hence, as we commemorate with pride the achievements of our yester heroes and heroines for getting rid of foreign tyranny, let us also ponder with humility for our failure to live up to their legacy and for allowing homegrown tyranny to flourish. Fortunately, it is not yet late to amend our ways and to work together to free ourselves from the monster we created and sustained. Let us stop pointing fingers at others and instead examine ourselves. As Socrates said , “Unexamined life is not worth living” for which Martin Luther King  added“ Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  I wish you all a thinking Independence Day.

About N. Emnetu

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  • Belay

    Dear Awatians,
    Eritreans in particular:
    When was the time that Eritrea was an INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, to be colonized by Ethiopia?
    Answering my question will help me and others.

    • sara

      Dear Belay
      that is easy for an eritrean to answer but difficult for others, someone here said eritrea was not colonized and he is damn sure you all have to accept it that way and if possible erase it from history books. now what is the difference between colonization and occupation, does occupation make more sense to some than colonization.
      lets call it eritrea was colonized by italy then occupied by great britain and later by ethiobia abay.

    • AMAN

      @ Belay
      If Eritrea was not freed; how come Ethiopia itself say it was free or
      independent from colonization. Isn’t Eritrea a Northern part (ener) of it ?
      May be some Ethiopians do not know the Geography and History of our
      homeland ? Or may be they came to know our country Ethiopia only recently ?
      Only HSI & family/party and col. Mengistu/party were free and independent and not
      even a single Ethiopian was free but a slave for over 60 years since the country
      came into existence ; hence all the wars for freedom !
      That is why ELF set out and pioneered the revolutionary armed struggle to give
      Ethiopians freedom and Liberty and succeeded in creating eplf, tplf, eprdf and others
      and brought Ethiopia and Ethiopian peoples into the present reality in its 50 years struggle
      and counting.
      If your head (Eritrea) is ailing or under certain control ( occupation by European power);
      then your whole body (Ethiopia) is considered sick/ailing (under control by foreign power)
      and is not able to feel free or normally function without the head. Hence,
      Eritrea not free Ethiopia not free.
      But most of all try to learn Ethiopian history if it was or not a free/independent country for the last
      60 years not from regime propaganda but from independent schools and the people to and you
      will find answers for your puzzles, misunderstandings and misinformation or mis-education.

  • Abi

    I found this interesting ;
    ” ethiopian brutal colonization ..”
    Pure fabricated lie, originated at Cairo university for the purposes of the nasty, useless , stinky good for nothing Arabs. Nothing more.

    • selam

      Dear Abi
      what is that you think are Hasot ? ,You seem to forget every thing. Ask dergi remnants

      • Abi

        Hi Selam
        I don’t forget what I did not know. Ethiopia NEVER colonized Eritrea. End of story.
        It was eritrea colonized ethiopia 1991-1998.

        • selam

          Dear Abi
          Ok i can accept the colonized thing just to come down to your level but what i and Said are saying is the brutal killing of our people by your people should be acknowledged by people like abi who are living to tell us the jews have been mascaraed and killed but when it comes to Eritrean suffering you do not want to take responsibility. You want to deflect it with any thing around.Come on Abi Eritreans still carry the scratch on their body and their houses.

        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear Abi,
          you are talking about century back history. Lol,,,,what is on that all Abi? we are talking about now. you and selam should pack the books and put them aside, we are in dark era people are talking how to light the candle using mind and heart. me the bad man is saying use the match.

          • Abi

            Some tell us about the brutal colonization, others tell us about the high flying, high achievers unique eritreans under colonization.
            This colonization nonsense has to stop. Call it anything else you want.
            It is your responsibility to teach the whole truth to the young and innocent like Selam. Otherwise, someone , a smooth talker like Said still use it to spread hate and time tasted propaganda as we speak . Just read his first sentence and tell me it is alright.
            Bayqoch yangebegbal.

          • Kokhob Selam

            you and me are not good in politics. we are good in some other field. now, you and someone else will talk about colonialism, imperialism, socialism a lot of isms, and nothing will be changed. Abo, that type of debate was tasty when the war between Eritrean revolution and Derg was there. now things are totally changed.

            you know what makes me and Horizon makes the best friends, you need to go and see our old posts. If me and Horizon were able to use the win -win argument why not you and Selam ? there is one software you and Selam should delete. one is Eritrean version and the other is Ethiopian version. Hey, we can’t turn back the old years and are gone. you better live in now. Let me ask you one question before you go to bed, in which book of politics do you read the more industrious (as we Eritreans claim it) nation colonized by a nation still in feudal stage? you will go crazy if you try to see it by scientific theory. there was special case happened.

            you know Abo, when I see it back I see that it is the weak mind of Ethiopian emperor and the narrow tendency of Eritrean people that created this mess. when I say the narrow tendency I mean it from both Muslims and Christians. They couldn’t manage it and yes the innocent Ethiopians and Eritreans suffer the result. think about it. Think and imagine, was that all necessary? wasn’t possible to leave Eritrea alone if this is the choice of people? and wasn’t okay if the people chose unity? how many life could have saved? how much could had those two nations progressed. see, it is all about harmony and balance. it is all about using the mind (each head between our ears cost 3 billion dollars– Lol still we have people like PFDJ who arrest thousands of heads)
            There were great men then like Abdulkadir Kebire — the bad thing in Eritrean politics is killing great man delays or stops the journey. I think PFDJ has learned and used it killing people while they are sleeping or eating or riding motor cycle. and if the people don’t move and oppose sure the consequence is high.

            so don’t go for that argument any more. live that as history. learn from it like the late Meles. Wisdom, Wisdom man.

          • Abi

            You are right. I don’t like politics. I hate lies. I despise liars.
            Wushet bewushet sichemer sidereb
            Gize yekedaw elet yihonal yeEmbway kab.

          • selam

            Dear K.S
            I have no idea why you want to dump 24 years old history ,while you come up with old ethiopian quotas on daily basis.

          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Selam,
            I told you how women think the other day zzzzz everty thing is connected. Lol
            Selam, which 24 years are you talking, is that after the so called “independence ” shsh don’t tell others. I don’t call it independent. that is our coma days, temporary death. Lol. the darkest era in our history. 30 years? that is the most awaken years but with dump nonsense leadership. before that, full of dirty men who cant see the future of their generation and before that the era when our grand fathers went to support Italians to Libya, the most crazy era…don’t become much proud for nothing. we have few heroes to be proud of. think fresh and don’t regret – as that will make you cheat yourself. be bold and live in now to solve current problems.

          • selam

            Dear K.S
            You must be in the arctic circle beginning from 1980. when the ELF lost and you packed your belonging and run to Siberia. wake up man,my grandfather would not say like what you put up there. Come on what is special about the Gonder thing ,dump them once for all ,they are not making you forget every thing.

          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Selam,
            I don’t care women. who cares if that comes from other planets. I only want to participate in everything (you can imagine anything worst) in ending PFDJ’s era. forget that 80 or 70 thing. forget all those blabla things. I am not interested. are you against PFDJ, then we are friends if you are not let ISIS come to you who cares Lol.

      • sara

        Dear selam
        you forgot to mention haileselassie before derge,
        btw -is it politically correct or socially right to say “stinking arabs” here in this forum,aren’t you offended, isn’t eritrea part of the afro-arab world, don’t we have eritreans of arab origin? why you let this pass without responding to the commenter.common selam tell him the truth! there is no offence defending the truth

        • selam

          Dear Sara
          You know, it is very hard to come down to his level even in his own words he will say ,no .I know he is one of the cat fish in and it is very hard for a cat fish to come clean. I am not surrendering to his majo.i am just telling him that we kicked his fathers from our land .

  • selam

    Dear Forumers.

    You know you live to give hope to the next generation ,i am always proud of your understanding the past and the present . what can i say except thanks for understanding our problem with the current political dicourse. Women are corrnered from every angle , like bread to child, thinking if her son is safe enough and also contemplating about the next move beyond these ,I ,I ,me me men .But i want to tell you this ,we just need time ,we will not be defined like koboro junkies ,we beat koboro beacuse the men are hopless ,I am sure all of you do not want us to be crying and sadned to limit. We will come back roaring hard not by intimidating ,but by compromising on bigger issues. I always wonder if the opposition really tried hard to invite us to their camp instead of picking an insult word for us.

    At last i want to pass my thanks to all of you ,i mean all men in this forum for at least understanding our issues. Let me make it clear ,women are not missled and they are not giving deaf ear to the crime by DIA .They are just observing from WUSHATE ,what the men can do with out harming their family at large.You all know our independence would not be achieved with out all eritreans women sheer determination and they fought and also carry all the burden of the family . Do you think it is easy for women to send her loved husband and beloved son and daughter to fight and get killed on the trenches of nakfa ? it is very very hard but they have send their beloved once and told them never ever surrender to dergi and bring our nation back. Have you ever heard a mother send her son and say ELIL , tell me? have you ever read a story of women collectively defend their nation equal to their men and sons except Eritrean women .where do you get koboro junckies for Eritrean women ,are not you the one told her to come to America with her sons ,who is to blame ,are not ashamed to blame us for your failures ,please take your junkies word off eritrean women. You we have seen you all over drinking ,playing card ,lose money and come home empity hand ,we are working hard the same like ,cleaning ,working in western hospitals in a ver hard place , working in arab countries and send money back home for you to cross the Eritrean borders and far libiya . why now you come with the word junckies for us . You know how much MADA is on your mothers face if you do not know you must be fool and idiots.

    Here is a story which happned in Eritrea when the names of our heroes was read , Not one woman but all women accepted the death of her sons ,husbands as a praise and they said AWET NIHAFASH when ever their beloved son or husband name was read one by one with date ,and place of death in the battle. Do you think Eritrean women are koboro junkies ? watch what you say because we women can blame you for being cowards ,idiots , telamat , kehadti adom, we have the right to blame you for every thing but we are not such creatures.

    At last it would be unfair for me to pass the comments made by Mahmud saleh ,saay ,Mizaan with out saying thanks but you must tell the same story to all men around especially to the opposition camp leader .
    Again we are not and will not be defined by their insult .Take off your insult word ,*Junckies* from us. Just watch on your own actions.

  • tes

    Dear Awatistas,

    Well, now we have reached to a discussion needed most to outline our strategy. The discourses we followed so far as per my understanding are:

    1. Rebutting YG’s anti-Eritrean identity philosophy. Almost accomplished with success
    2. Defining PFDJ. (as a one man centered or as a system)
    3. Questioning legitimacy of PFDJ
    4. Categorizing Eritrean current political stand (kobor junkies, silent majority
    5. Proposing best strategy to dispose PFDJ.
    6. Inviting different stakeholders (awate welcomed even diehard PFDJistas to discussion, as a reconcilation step)
    6. Defining Eritrean opposition line of thinking
    7. Bringing a hypothesis (Heart-and-Mind strategy)
    8. Discussion time (thanks N. Emnetu for heading to the next level).


  • Mizaan1

    Dear Emnetu. What an incredible set of questions! I think about those day in and day out. I am so pleased you put those questions out there for everyone to reflect upon. But I have to say, it so sad that we even have to ask ourselves those questions. They just seem so basic and should be simply instinctual and should happen without us posing those questions.

  • Amanuel

    Dear N Emnetu

    You stared off with brilliant introduction and I thought will be interest read, however half way your emotions got the better of you and question the current generation. To remind you, that the current generation also paid his duty in the last boarder war, and the out came is not its fault. Going back to the WHY question? I guess the simple answer is, it is the fault of the generation used to capture Tanks with Kalashinkov. It squandered Ghedli’s good will and messed with our martyrs legacy. It doesn’t need a philosophical explanation. The generation you are questioning can observe that those who avoided or abandoned Ghedli are in better position and building Villas, and shouldn’t be blamed for aspiring to have the same. Worst, it is witnessing those who captured Tanks with Kalashinkov amassing wealth at any expenses forgetting their martyred comrades. ካብ ኩፉእ ዝገብሩኻ ኩፉእ ዝምህሩኻ.

    Another explanation is globalisation. Comparing to the 80s now people are more mobile and opportunities are available. if countries don’t create a condition where young people see their future they will move to where they can find it. Picking a gun and fighting back is so 1960s.

    • Naznet Emnetu

      Dear Amanuel,

      I am sorry if I have disappointed you. You chose to see only the questions related to the current generation and react very defensively. I have brothers and my own three children who passed though Sawa. I am very much aware of their sacrifices and hardships. If you would have taken few second to think about the questions, could have come with various answers. For instance, the “leaders” who are from the Gedli generation, have caused the current generation to be very timid by harsh punishments, imprisonments and constant harassments for even minor dissent. Spies and divide in rule tactics worsened the situation. Parents, like myself, have also allowed the government to take our children whenever it wishes. Hence, one could argue that the current generation are the product of the various factors. One the other hand, the Gedli generation fought to right the wrongs of the Mahber Andnet (parent’s) generation, is it wrong to ask the same of the current generation?

      I am not blaming anybody. Nonetheless, I believe that all of us have a hand in creating the current Eritrean situation and all of us can play our roles to change it.

    • Wedi Chided

      ሰላም ኤማ፡
      ልክዕ ን እምነቱ ዘምጽኦ ጽሑፍ ናይ ብሓቂ ንብዙሕ ኣብ ግዜና ዘሎ ሕልኽላኻት ንኽንፈትሕ ከበግሰና ዝኽእል ባይታ ዝፈጥር ብጣዕሚ ጽቡቕ ጽሑፍ እዩ፡ ንን እምነኡ ከየመስገንክዎ ክሓልፍ ኣይደልን።
      ኣብዛ ኮመንትኻ ግን ብዙሕ ኣብ ኣእምሮይ ትመላለሰኒ ሓሳብ ቶግ ኣቢልካያ፡፡ ንምንታይ ኣነ ሓደ ካብቶም ብጾቶም ንቓልሲ ክኸዱ እንከለዉ ናብ ናይ ብሕቲ ጥቕሚ ንወጻኢ ዝኸዱ ሓደ ኣየ። እዚ ክብል ከለኹ ከምቶም ከምዚ ናተይ ሃገሮም ራሕሪሖም ዝኸዱሞ ድሕሪ ናጽነት ንሕናውን ብግደና ኣበርኪትና ኢና ገንዝብ ኣዋጺና ንሰውራ ኤርትራ ብዙሕ ኣድማዒ ኣስትዋጽኦ ጌርና ኢና ኢሎም ንነብሶም ዝቕሽሹ ነብሰይ ይቕሽሽ ኔረ እየ።
      ከምዚ ኣብ ላዕሊ ዝጠቕስካዮ እቶም ምእንቲ ሃገሮም ተቓሊሶም ገለ ዝተሰውኡ ገለ ዝሰንከሉ ገለውን ብሰላም ኣትዮም ከብቅዑ ካብ ዘሮ ተበጊሶም ኣብቲ ከርፋሕ ናይ ኤርትራ ናብራ ክሳቐዩ፡ ንሕና ግን ንኤርትራ መጺና ጸጽቡቑ ቪላታት ኣስመራ ንምግዛእ ክንቀዳደም ዝራኣየ መንእሰይ ከመይ ኢሉ እዩ ሎሚ ናብ ሃገራዊ ቃልሲ ክኣቱ። እዚ ናይ ሎሚ መንእሰይ ፈራሕ ስለዝኹነ ኣይኮነን ቃልሲ ገዲፉ ንደገ ዝሃድም ዘሎ፡ እንታይ ደኣ ብዓል ኣቦይ ዓሽዮምስ ኣነ ክኣ ክዕሹ ብማለት እዩ ዝሃድም ዘሎ። እዚ ማለት ግን ገከ ገለ ንመንነቱ ዝፈታተን ግዜ ምስ ዘጋጥሞ ንነብሱ ብዘኹርዕ መንገዲ ይከላኸል ኣዩ፡ ንኣብነት ቅድሚ ክልተ ዓመት ኣቢሉ ይኸውን ኣብ መዓስከር ሸገራብራሻይዳ ከምኣመሎም ብለይቲ ሰባት ክጨውዩ ኣብ ዝኣተውሉ ግዜ እቲም ኣብኡ ዝነበሩ መንእሰያት ብበትሪ ጀሚሮም ብረቶም ኣሕዲጎም ልዕሊ ዓሰርተ ሓሙሽተ ራሻይዳ ቀቲሎም ልዕሊ ሽዱሽተ ማሪኾም ንመንግስቲ ሱዳን ኣረኪቦም። ኣብቲ ዝተገብረ ምርብራብ ክኣ ኣርባዕተ መንእሰያትና ተሰዊኦም። ወዮ ድኣ ካብ ጽቡቕ ነገር ንላዕሊ ንኽፉእ ነገር ዝውረዮ ኮይኑምበር ብዙሕ ጅግንነት ፈጺሞም ኣዮም። እቲ ቀዲ መልእኽተይ ግን ኣብ ዓዋተ ብዙሕ ትምህርቲ ኣሎ ቀጽልዎ።

  • said

    Thank you N. Emnetu, for insightful article

    Eritrea ever since its independence , a country that is in continuing to oppress and subjugate its people in violation of the International Law and Human Rights. Once Eritrean are done and get ride with present regime. The future Eritrean government will have to meet the economic expectations of a population that yearning and hankering for a better future. Massive and Colossal challenges lies ahead . They require major sacrifices: Only a highly qualified and trustworthy leadership can convince the people that better future lies ahead .These are many enormous challenges and obstacle ahead , and many Eritrean are sceptical that Eritrea can navigate them. Yet there will be is renewed hope. The Eritrean people have faced many challenge, they will remove the regime, they will win the right to liberty, to human rights and right to the ballot box to demand freedom, dignity and social justice. Eritrean independence by all account is a triumphant feat, and one that truly demonstrates the country’s promise spirit is still alive . I genuinely give the Eritrean people the credit they deserve.

    As Eritrea is a deeply Divided country, minority are actively supporting the regime ,knowing well its economy is deeply in shambles without obvious early revival, 24 years after the independence that’s proving disastrous and extremely costly for Eritrea ‘s Social Peace and economy, the regime generals and their cohorts , a miserably failed ,they are proven par excellence, they dutifully dedicated subservient with vengeance to the non-elected ,imposed dictatorship ruler of Eritrea ,they serve wholehearted the strong Military Man in Charge of Eritrea .

    One would have thought that educated and brilliant Eritreans with accretion of long years in struggle ,diplomacy, public office, heading diplomatic ambassadorial position , would render a seasoned politicians to be wiser, judicious and publicly responsible; however, those men ,the generals war mongers and ambassadors are defying the common wisdom in this regard.

    That sure makes the quality of ageing President’s Men in an Eritreans that hardly started licking its wounds that would for long be healing, if ever, as the Polarization only widens and the DIA regime stubbornly is continuing going it its way with total disregard for social peace ,harmony, progress and reconciliation.

    Eritrea is plunging into the unknown for generations to come; an advice that was best rendered by many patriot and by many a Savvy Public Office seasoned politicians and many so called advisor who instead chose to pour oil on the fire in obvious most narrowly self-serving egotistical agenda centering on themselves.

    These wicked regime don’t even believe in a true creator God… they believe in destruction, war, manipulation ,lust, power, hate and greed. Many well intentioned Eritrean , are deceived by nationalistic ploy. with nothing but the worst of intentions for humanity.

    Isaias and his handpicked regime is bathed in blood and treachery and bloodletting. They will do anything, commit any atrocity, and all in the name of Eritrean nationalism and that killing of innocent “Eritrean” is completely justified and nothing to feel any compunction about. But no, no. To question the regime about of those killed and disappeared Eritrean as those you are committing the most heinous act of treason against humanity.

    Talk about reversing Eritrean history the truth. And all this has been engineered for more two decade of false propaganda. As is the case with all of these manufactured myths and ideologies such as the only liberator of Eritrea.

    As smokescreen to justify anything and everything to do as they wishes above the law. And they’ll stop at nothing and to justify the militarization of country for phony wars .One day they will reap what they sow

    Many factors helped EPLF its leaders and dictated foot soldiers knew that they were in a victory, stage was set, Ethiopian army was demolished and demoralized, just as god less Soviet Union’s, when it seemed highly implausible that a cabal of Bolsheviks would rule the Russian empire for seventy-plus years and it crumbled overnight on its Wight .EPLF and TLPF fully cooperated and similarly, Berlin cultivated secret military ties with the Soviets across early 1920s. In a somewhat similar way TPLF and EPLF collaborated. With exception NUSO have different goal and secret mission (Nehna Alamana ) a messianic ideologies of exclusive to one adherent to a tiny and trusted upper inner ethnic group ; NUSO stirred up brethren war ,it’s exploited imaginative grievances and NUSO as usual master of the game and sometime adaptable to circumstance, A very chauvinistic mentality —showing an excessive, prejudiced loyalty to his a particular affinity group .But sometimes he find a way as presenting a change and progressive reform only on name and empty sentimentality — Sentimentality and hardness of heart are two sides of the same coin. NUSO is a very Machiavelli and clear thinker who is well versed with the intricacies of the local political game within his controlling regime, as the Bolsheviks did — to tweak their ideologies when survival requires it, and to depend and rely on hard core trusted group when needed. And sometime encompassing national loyalties as well. NUSO relied on nationalist and even religious pride at times. A generation later, we become pariah and failed state .You could say long live EPLF/PFDJ, just some may say long live Bolsheviks? Buried with dust.

  • saay7

    Selamat N. Emnetu:

    On behalf of the AT and the forum, I want to welcome you here and thank you for contributing to the discussions here at what awatistas have called Awate U.

    I want to focus your attention to the paragraph that contrasts 40-60s generation with the current generation. The one that invites us to examine what happened to us as a people. To dramatize the point that something has gone wrong with us, writers (you included) have made the point that nowadays one Rashaida Bedouin with an AK can herd dozens of Eritreans–abuse them, violate the women–and Eritreans are paralyzed into inaction. Meanwhile, back in the 60s, that generation….

    Two points on this:

    1. The 60s generation was, exactly like the current generation, heavily influenced by what was happening globally. The 1960s is practically when every African country threw the yokes of colonialism and it was natural for Eritrean elite to ask why not us…and then to inspire the people to equate freedom with absence of Ethiopian rule. This would have remained an abstraction until Ethopia played along and acted like the worst European colonizers. The current generation is heavily influenced by its world: it is one that says we are a global village and people/capital can and should move anywhere to advance themselves. That is, even if Eritrea was a perfectly just and democratic country that respected its citizens human rights, but one that didn’t deliver on opportunities, there would have been SOME migration. Compounding it is the Eritrean government’s “sacrifice this generation so the next generation can live better” philosophy which, the youth being rational beings say, “hey, that means me!”

    2. That Rashaida Bedouin escorting Eritreans AWAY from Eritrea and closer to Europe. Now, assume that this smuggler had been paid extra money to smuggle the Eritreans TO Eritrea and away from Europe and the Eritreans overheard him while conspiring to do this. Do you think the Eritreans would still have been paralyzed? What did Eritreans do when Libya decided to deport them from Libya to Eritrea? Didn’t they hijack the plane and force it to land in Eritrea? Didn’t they do this with plastic utensils?

    Eritreans do this all the time: we just don’t hear about it. (I heard about a couple of Eritrean friends who did this just this week, by the way, in Sudan.) The point is that people are willing to take risks commensurate with the reward. And people, notwithstanding the “Eritreans are special people” mantra, are influenced by their environment. Here’s one example: there are more European-grown Eritrean Islamist youth in ISIS than the three Eritrean Islamist organization.


    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Saay,

      Memories always serves you beautifully in many of your argument. This one is one of them.

      Amanuel H.

    • haileTG

      hey saay,

      This comment is so interesting that I like it:-) Thanks for your response on the other thread, I will reply a little later today.

    • Mizaan1

      Saay, your second point is a little out of balance. You cited two cases of defiance from the new generation but we hear of the opposite almost every day. This particular point deserves much more attention and analysis than counter arguing with one plane hijacked while thousands fall victim to some coward bedouins. I was in Europe in 2008 as my sister got there through Libya. All her friends were gathered and they made a mockery of the men crying on the boats because they were too thirsty while the women were holding steady and saying ajokum ajokum. I am not an idolizer of the ghedli generation by any means but they had some balls.

      • saay7

        selamat mizaan:

        I gave you the example of plane hijacked to Sudan because it’s public information. If we are going to compare personal anecdotes I think I can give my own. In any event, the story you narrated doesn’t show the Eritrean men were cowards, it only shows that the Eritrean women had super-human skills. And since you are comparing it with Ghedli and the alleged deterioration of Eritrean manhood, guess what: Eritrean female tegadelti had a reputation for being more fierce than the men. In fact one myth had it that Ethiopian soldiers were advised never to surrender to Eritrean female fighters. Ask Mahmouday and Fanti Ghana if I am exaggerating.

        Hiji entay: now what?:)


        • Mizaan1

          Saay, I wouldn’t put it as cowardice quite frankly, it’s more of a ‘me first’ mentality. As to the boat story, I wasn’t going to post it here but the women were alleging the guys peed in their pants, cried mommy mommy etc. right in front of a sample of those guys. I don’t want to sound insensitive here, I really am. But why is there not even any attempt of organized defiance to any wrong doing be it by PFDJ or smugglers? I am afraid these new generation may have deeper issues with probably, I even dare say, Eritrea. I am saying lets analyze this a little more carefully to help this new generation that having your own country means everything. They are not merely economic migrants. They just don’t see themselves fit in this new box called Eritrea. They are looking elsewhere for the things they need in life, liberty, happiness, prosperity, you name it. They are certainly not looking for it in Eritrea partly because there is a level of self centeredness now and ‘why should I die’ for the sake of others.

          • saay7

            Hey Mizaan:

            For whatever it is worth, it’s cross-generational: our women have always better expectations of us and we always come short. When I was a baby, there was an old lady in my neighborhood who narrated stories of her husband. In his presence. Of how when he failed medical exam to fight the war in tripoli that he and his friend were celebrating and “Hmaqat! My father would be shocked!”

            I have a good friend who is very disappointed at the men of her and my generation. Because I like you, I am going to quote you what she wrote me just yesterday (and thereby horrify and disappoint her) but it’s all for a good cause:

            “Ab Aadi guana kulu jgna koynu! Leflefti! Lef ktblu meriet Aribuna. Hademti! Abti gobo “men ikha? Men ikha? Ane iye ambesa berekha!” Yibehal neru! Antu anaxu!”

            So you see, our Eritrean women’s need to be our equal but for us to be more manly is not only cross generational but cross cultural (I see it in the U.S. with American women.)

            So don’t be harsh on the young Eritreans. They are as fierce as creative and as enterprising as any past present and future Eritrean. They just have been wronged gravely. More than any other generations and all of us before them can at least pretend it was som foreigner who harmed them. They were harmed by their own uncles. And, give them a little time, they will recover and they will lead. They are already taking over our limping opposition organizations.


          • Mizaan1

            Saay, with that I will only say afka yisaar and I believe.

            P.S. Speaking of Eritrean women, all I can say about them is they are anahib (bees). I participate in nearly every Eritrean event and I leave shaking my head simply wondering what they are made out of.

          • saay7

            Hey Mizaan:

            Here’s what I believe (and this is where I lose my friend Emma and Tes because they are all about “institutions” ) but I have seen in my lifetime how ONE MAN transcended a regime (and that’s Gorbachev) and how one man is far more gifted than all his peers combined (and that’s Meles Zenawi: who, from his grave, gave a rebuttal to the latest Economist article*).

            Here is my prediction (an experiment that, unfortunately, will not be tested):

            If nothing else changed, if Eritrean politics was as messed up and disorganized and polarized as it is, but only one thing changed: every organization from the PFDJ, to the traditional opposition, to the Eritrean social media, to the Eritrean media decided to keep their organizations but have WOMEN in all key positions, you would see an earth-shaking change in Eritrean politics.


            * The Economist: Neither A Sprint, Nor A Marathon

            * Meles Zenawi: 2012 World Economic Forum

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dear Mizaan1
            Your observation on our women is correct. One more observation:
            The reason why we won a brutal liberation war was because of two important social groups, women and the Youth. Do you see them given space in the opposition? The matter is not about lip serving moves for the effect of “we are doing it but they just could not come to us” thing, but do the oppositions really open up spaces and opportunities for these social groups to have decision-making roles? You see the political opposition led by remnants of the armed struggle (old men), and you know how pathetic their performance has been so far. Now, look at the activists and civic groups; they are the domain of the young generation WHERE there is a good representation of women, and you see them making a lot of activities using modern means of communications, and have made some practical pushes against PFDJ. That tells it all.

          • selam

            Dear M.Saleh
            It may seem an exaggeration for some forumers if i in case praise you with endless words but you deserve all .Your comments always gives me hope and on that point i remain to be solid on my believe that Eritrea still poses a very good ,determined men. ,I have seen people leave their ground in but You are just amusing Sir. You never entertain words of insults but you tell people to their face the only hard truth and that is the best quality you can teach to people like me. Telling them the only truth .One question ,how do you manage your emotions and still hold on to the facts ? that always surprised me sir,

          • Mahmud Saleh

            Dearest selam
            Thanks for the nice words. I was once a roaring revolutionary, but time and four boys taught me to slow down and try to see things as they are, although I still have my moments of jumping off the coolness. Oh, yes, and I have an anchoring woman, too.

    • Naznet Emnetu

      Dear Saay,

      Thank you for you comments.
      1. Please allow me to share my experience when it comes migration. In 1975, I left Eritrea to Sudan because the town (Om-Hager) where I lived and worked was burned to the ground. Thousands like me were forced to leave their country because of the war. My five children were born in Sudan. In 1990, I, without my family, migrated to Europe. After independence, in September 1991, my family (children with their mother) chose to return Eritrea. Until 1998, I was often advised to come home for good. After the boarder war, the behaviour of the government changed and life became difficult. My children, even after doing their Sawa, were not able to pursue the studies of their choice. Frustrations hipped up. The same people who were advising me to home for good started to criticise me for not taking my children to Europe. In turns, they all left Eritrea. Had the situation been different would they have migrated to Europe. I believe so but for vacations or for further studies. One or two of them might want to stay for good but not all. At least it was not in their plan. It is to say that the current migration is not normal. By the way, in my days there was no TV, internet with all the websites or even phones. We had the radio and tape player. The influence, the at least where I grew up were oral stories and songs of Alamin Abdeletif, Tewelda Reda, Teberh etc.

      2. I agree that my generation was lucky to have organisations to belong to that were bigger than ourselves. There could be courageous actions taken that I did not hear about. In this regard, I have to open my eyes and ears.

  • Peace!

    Dear N. Emnetu,

    Victims don’t chose to be silent, but in the absence of genuine leadership, people continue to listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.The silent victims you are referring to are tired of asking for genuine leadership (thanks to the 300+ opposition groups); a leadership that defines the problem clearly and offers a realistic solution, and can lead with purpose and direction. But sadly enough what we have now is the Opposition Groups of Whining with multiple elements that serve foreign nations. If one fails to galvanize victims for obvious reason, then there must be something terribly wrong with him. And as long as there is no clear plan for the aftermath of the current tyranny and its legacy, I am afraid victims will continue to remain silent, and fixing the status quo will also remain the only realistic option.


    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Peace,

      the question is why the majority are silent? isn’t there own problem? and if you said opposition is serving others, don’t you think you should also bring facts and proves? if not don’t you think you are serving the ugly group over there?

      even don’t you think you can have your own opposition? kindly try to reply me.

      • Peace!

        Dear Kokhob,

        Actually that was my take on the we written article, and I am sorry if that has offended you.

        • dawit

          Dear Peace;

          here testimony of EPLF discipline by Time Magazine correspondents

          “By logic, the nation of Eritrea (pop. 3 million) should not exist. The secessionist province’s independence fighters ought never to have defeated Ethiopia in their 30-year-long struggle. They were outmanned, outgunned, abandoned or betrayed by every ally; their cause was hopeless. They won by force of character, a unity and determination so steely not all the modern armaments, superpower support or economic superiority of Ethiopia could withstand it. The spirit that saw the Eritreans through 10 years in the trenches of their mountain redoubt at Nakfa has built them a nation from scratch, since independence was finally consummated in 1993”.

        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear Peace,
          yep, that is plain truth. Any organization who want to win in Eritrea should learn from EPLF on how to keep it. If the leadership of EPLF was really will correct principle we couldn’t fail to have democratic nation as the admin side was good.

  • YMB

    Dear N. Emnetu
    Thought provoking article;
    No matter how well we theorise our people’s condition back home, the unanswered million-dollar question is, how do we get to the right solution? Is removing the dictator or implementing his symbolic constitution a solution? The answer is a big NO for me but it is a big YES to others. Unless we honestly examine our way of thoughts, unfortunately it is unlikely our predicament will end up soon. I have a strong feeling that we are in undeclared war between ourselves; part of us think to the extent that Eritrea is own property, whilst bewailing have become a sort of culture to part of us instead of creating solidarity for the
    right purpose (false purpose ends in vain) and fight.

  • dawit

    Dear Emnetu;

    Thank you for your article “The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living”. You challenged readers to examine our life by
    posing several questions, thinking present Eritrea.

    “Do we keep running away from our own responsibilities and continue to blame
    others like the regime at home for everything that goes wrong in our country?

    First our government does not blame everything on others”. If GoE blames the Ethiopian occupation and US and UN collaboration it is fact, it is just like claiming during the armed struggle period, referring the USSR and US help to occupy Eritrea by force. GoE is firmly standing on its foot defending, protecting and developing a ruined country by centuries of colonization. On the contrary those of us who are running away from our responsibilities and country keep
    blaming GoE for our problems, instead of our mistaken misinformation actions. I don’t see how one can equate both.

    “How is that the generation that fearlessly fought to free Eritrea from the Ethiopian
    colonization could not raise even their voice let alone their finger against home
    grown tyrant who imprison, kill and enslave their people?”

    “Home grown tyrant” again this is a matter of personal opinion, some may see it as tyrant but for many at home they
    are the leaders of their making who are doing what they are supposed to do to keep the country safe, from internal and
    external enemies of the nation. They don’t consider their administrators, like the colonial time Pasha Sultan, General Emberto, Sir William, Ras Debalqe, Andarge or Colonel Ergetachew! They see Bitsay Isaias as their president, Bitsot Hagos, Saleh, Bitseyti Fatna or Lemlem men and women who stood with them during the harsh colonial times, leaders who speak their languages, who eat their kind of food, who worship with them, sing and dance like them, who grew up in their villages.

    How about the Eritrean intelligentsia, when will you rise up to occasion and help save the nation?”.

    Again this is a mistaken assumption, those educated Eritreans inside or outside the country work as civil servants,
    diplomats, defense, sport, health and agriculture experts, teachers etc. with the government or running their business contributing and building the nation. Few outside the country associated with the opposition write and agitate for
    change of the system but those are perceived by the majority as paid agents working for outside interest or people looking for their individual quest for power. Few of them are also responsible for putting Eritrea under sanctions and
    others advocates openly Eritrean invasion by outside forces, reversing the struggle for independence.

    On your conclusion, you listed the sacrifices of Eritrea for its independence and lamenting the truck records of its

    “Unfortunately, the Eritrea that we have is not the one they envisioned, a country where its
    people live in peace, democracy, justice and progress”.

    But I say fortunately that is what the present leaders in Eritrea are doing building a country where its people live
    in peace, democracy, justice and progress. Unlike many countries, they are building a democratic system from the bottom up, a country with true progressive democracy worthy of their comrades’ sacrifices. Eritrea is under constructions facing challenges internally of resource constraint and external aggressions.

    “Let us stop pointing fingers at others and instead examine ourselves”. To that, I say Amen!

    • T..T.

      Hi Dawit,

      You are always on “don’t blame Isayas, blame yourselves.” As the person on the driver’s seat, Isayas has to take the blames for heading to a wrong destination and tumbling down the hill. Yet, you want Isayas not to take the blamesssssssss.

      Dawit, read the lips of the world. As long as Isayas does not admit his failures, he will continue to be a failure.

      A quote from John F. Kennedy may help, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.” So long, you (Dawit) talk Isayas’s talks, you are presenting yourself as his ambassador playing with words to keep Isayas blameless. That’s not fair.

      You know what, the too much surfacing errors (crimes and corruptions) of Isayas are creating barriers between you (Dawit) and the rest of Eritreans. Tell the world about your secrets as to how you don’t feel the pains that others are suffering from. We know that patients in surgery are put under general anesthesia to paralyze their body in order not to feel any pain. And, addicted people get stoned to forget their unhappiness and pains. Where do you stand, Dawit? What is your secret?

      • dawit

        Hi TT,
        No secret with dawit. Just follow the simple truth. Like ERTiV Serving the Truth. I tell it as I see it. Oh yes, Isaias has a lot to be blamed for, but his number one crime is leading the Eritrean people struggle in the right direction to its natural conclusion of Eritrean Independence, when the world was united not to allow Eritrean Independence be a reality since the end of WWII. There are also plenty Ethiopians blaming Isaias for shattering their dream of Red Sea outlet, after three decades of distraction and millions of manpower losses. Ambassadorship to Eritrea is not limited to select individuals, every Eritrean is commissioned to be an ambassador of his/her country.

    • Naznet Emnetu

      Dear Dawit,

      When I read your comments, I became unsure whether we talking about the same Eritrea, the Eritrea headed by Mr Isaias and his cliques. if you have listened to Mr Isaias’ speeches and interviews for the last fifteen years, you will then understand that it is always about blaming others. To my knowledge he has never talked about his own short coming. It is true that during the struggle we pointed our finger at those who were enabling the colonisation. But, at the same time, Eritreans worked hard to build friendships with individuals, political parties and trade-unions of country supporting the colonisation in order to shift or at least neutralise the support of their governments. Eritrea had more friends during the struggle than the present. Why? During the struggle the Eritrean leadership was confident of its just cause and had the support of its people. The current Eritrea leadership has only one cause, stay in power at any cost. Injustice became it modus operandi. People do not support injustice. Eritrea is not the border only. Eritrea is the people. The border issue is a good cover for its weaknesses. Otherwise, if it really wanted to solve the border problem, it could have done so by building genuine relationships first with its people and then with the rest of the world.

      Why blame the US, or UN? Mr Isaias was once a good friend of the US. To please the US, he sent soldiers to support of SPLA against the Sudanese government, forgetting the long time support support of the Sudanese government and people. In support of the American agenda, he exported armed opposition groups to Eastern Sudan to help cause regime change. Unfortunately for him, the Americans were not very much impressed by his gestures. The Americans cater only for their own interests. If their interests is better served supporting Ethiopia, they do so. Had he cared for the interests of Eritrea, he would have found a lot of commonalities with the interests of other counties and work accordingly.

      You wrote, “Unlike many countries, they are building a democratic system from the bottom up, a country with true progressive democracy worthy of their comrades’ sacrifices.” You must be joking, right? Is indefinite “national service” that deprives the youth of having and chasing own dreams worthy of their comrades’ sacrifices? Is keeping people to rot in jain without any due process of law worthy of their comrades’ sacrifices? Can a government that shuns dissent, hates accountability, and hides its problems with flimsy excuses build “progressive” democracy? If you would have been the same age as me, you might have come across at “hzbawi baytotat” of the seventies in the liberated areas. We even do not have those elementary democratic exercises let alone you new “progressive” ones.

      As for Eritrean intelligentsia, may be we have different definitions of the word. I will be happy to learn the names and function of the “educated Eritreans inside or outside the country work as civil servants, diplomats, defence, sport, health and agriculture experts, teachers etc. with the government or running their business contributing and building the nation” that you mentioned.

      As Eritreans, I believe, you and I wanted a country that is democratic, just and at peace with itself and its neighbours. A country that is ruled by law and with the consent of its people. We can only have such a country if we do not hide our problems but work together to address our problems with courage and honesty.

      • dawit

        Dear Naznet Emnetu,
        Obviously we are talking about two Eritrea, one with its half cup full and the other half empty. I see the Eritrea, which the world powers don’t like to exist did every thing possible to prevent its independence, but with tremendous sacrifices it emerged form the ashes. You are talking of Eritrea that live in a friendly neighborhood or peaceful world climate. Therefore my Eritrea and your Eritrea exist and travel in two parallel worlds.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Dear N. Emnetu
    It’s great article, raising great questions. Thank you for reminding us that change starts from ourselves. Only changed minds can effectuate the task of changing others.

  • T..T.

    Hi Emnetu and all,

    It is commonly understood that we, as human beings, are powered by thinking and limited by not thinking.

    Isayas knew the power of time – that’s why he targeted it and totally stopped “time” in Eritrea. During the field days, Isayas forced our fighters to surrender their wrist watches and there immediately he brought everyone under control.

    It is time now to reclaim or snatch the wrist watches back and have the ticking time guide our thinking. The ticking time and thinking, for sure, will help us see things clear and nothing will be bleak to take notice of the truth that in Eritrea there is no government, a government that pays attention to the problems of its people.

  • sabri

    Dear N. Emnetu,

    Great article. These days we read two insightful articles. One by you and the other one is by Haie TG. These two articles are complimentary. While your piece invites us to reflect which is very important both at individual and collective level, Haile’s article advice us to do heart-centered activities. The one who is able to reflectt have an inclination to listen the heart. That is way I said the two are complimentary. Thank you for your insights.