(እዚ መዘከር ሓተታዊ ቃና ከይህሉዎ ዝከኣለኒ ፈቲነ ዝተዓወትኩ ግን ኣይመሰለንን’ሞ ምስናይ ይቕረታኡ።)

ብዕለት 5 ሰነ ገዛኢ ሰልፊ ኢትዮጵያ–ኢህወደግ–ንዘተ ሰላም ስምምዕ ኣልጀርስ ምሉእ ብምሉእ ከም ዝተቐበሎን ንትግባረኡ ድሉዊ ምህላዉን ድሕሪ ምሕባሩ᎓ እቶም ፊስካ ክንፍሓሎም’ሞ ናብ ዝተመልከተሎም ኣንፈት ክነብሑ ዝጽበዩ ተጣበቕቲ ጭቆና ገዲፍና᎓ እቲ ንፍትሒ ዝቃለስን ዝጣበቕን ወገን ማዕረ ጽንብል ናጽነት ብዝቃረብ ደስታ’ዩ ተቐቢሉዎ።

ልዕሊ ክልተ ሰሙን ሓሊፉ ብዘይ ዝዀነ ወግዓዊ መልሲ ብወገን ኣስመራ ስቕ ምስ ተባህለ ድማ ብዙሓት ንኤርትራ ኣመልኪተን ዝዓያ መራኸቢ ብዙሃን (ብቐንዲ ከኣ ሓይሊ ተቓውሞ) ነቲ ዘይምኽኑይ ስቕታ ኣትሪሩ ኰኒኑዎ። ኰኒኑዎ ጥራይ ዘይኰነ ከኣ ሰላም’ውን ንኢሳይያስ ውጽኢታዊ ዘይምዃኑን ከም ዘይምነዮን ብዙሕ ተጻሒፉን ተዘሪቡን። (ብወገነይ እኳ ኢሳይያስ ንሰላም ፍጹም ቅሩብ ዘይምዃኑ ኣምልኪተ ክልተ ዓንቀጻት እዚእዚን ጽሒፈ።)

ልክዕ ኣብ ክልተ ሰሙኑ᎓ ብምኽንያት ዝኽሪ መዓልቲ ሰማእታት ኣመልኪቱ ኣብ ዝሃቦ መደረ ግን ፕረሲደንት ኢሳይያስ ንጻውዒት ሰላም ኢትዮጵያ ከም ዝተቐበሎ ጥራይ ዘይኰነስ ብኣካል ንምዝርራብ ልኡኽ ክሰድድ ኣብ ምድላው ከም ዘሎ ጠቒሱ። በዛ መደረ’ዚኣ እቶም ሓበሬታ ደንጒዩዎም ከቕለልዉ ዝጸንሑ ደገፍቲ ኣንፈት ስለ ዝተሓበሮም ከም ወትሩ ክነብሑ ከለዉ᎓ ንሓያሎ ዘገረመ ግን እቶም ተሓለቕቲ ሰላም ምዃንና ክንምድር ዝጸናሕና ኣስቂጥና ጥራይ ዘይኰነስ᎓ ራዕዲ ዝኣተወና’ውን መሲልና።

ኣብ ውሽጢ ሰዓታት “ኢሳይያስ ኣይእመንን’ዩ”፣ “ቅሉዕ ደብዳበ ናብ ቀዳማይ ሚኒስተር ኣብይ”፣ “መን’ዮም ዝውክሉና?” ወዘተ. ግን ከኣ ብኽቱር እስትሕቃርን ናይ ዳእላ ቃናን ግብረ-መልሲ ክውሕዝ ጀሚሩ።

ብወገናይ ኣብ መደረ ፕረሲደንት ኢሳይያስ ኣመና ዘቖጥዓኒ ቃና ነይሩ። ንኣብነት᎓ ኣብዚ ናይ ዘተ ጕዳይ ወሳኒ ተራ ክጻውት ምዃኑ ዘይዝንጋዕን ቀንዲ መሻርኽቲ ምዃኑ ዘይተርፍን ንገዛኢ ሰልፊ ክልል ትግራይ ህውሓት ምንሻው ሓላፍነታዊ ኣይነበረን ጥራይ ዘይኰነስ ንሕማቕ ኣንፈት ዘርኢ ዝተክል’ዩ። ብቐንዱ ሃንደስቲን ኣተግበርቲን እዚ ህይወት ኣሽሓት ዝወሰደ ኲናት ክልተ ናይ ቀረባ ውድባት ህውሓትን ህግደፍን ኣብ ክንዲ ጌጋኻ ኣሚንካን ንህዝቢ ብቕኑዕ ልቢ ይቕረ ምሕታት᎓ ሕጂ ከኣ ካልእ ተዃታዂ ቋንቋ ምዝውታር ዝገደደ ሳዕቤን ክህሉዎ’ዩ። እቲ ዝኸፍአ ድማ እቶም ነባሖ ካብታ መደረ እናጨራረሙ ከጋውሑ ምዃኖምን ምህላዎምን’ዩ።Continue reading

Despite all the difficulties, Eritreans and Ethiopians are hopeful that lasting peace will be concluded soon.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomes Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 26, 2018 [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomes Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 26, 2018 [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters] 

On June 26, a high-level Eritrean delegation led by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for talks on ending the decades-long conflict between the two countries.

Earlier this month, Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, had extended an olive branch to his country’s longtime enemy by stating that Ethiopia is finally ready to fully accept and implement the terms of an 18-year-old peace agreement between the two countries. Last week, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki acknowledged his Ethiopian counterpart’s peace offer.

The Eritrean delegation arrived in Ethiopia only yesterday, but significant progress has already been made – Ahmed announced that Ethiopian Airlines would restart flights to Eritrea for the first time since 1998. Click here

(Published in Al Jazeera English; June 11, 2018)

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki cannot afford to ignore Ethiopia’s peace offer.

Isaias Afwerki has been Eritrea's president since 1993 [Reuters/James Akena]

On June 5, Ethiopia announced it would fully accept and implement the 2000 Algiers Peace Accord that ended its border war with Eritrea. It also said it would accept a 2002 ruling by the UN-backed Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), which awarded several disputed territories, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea. Ethiopia had been ignoring the commission’s ruling and refusing to withdraw its troops from these territories for the past 16 years, making the demarcation of the border practically impossible.

Adis Ababa’s announcement last week was welcomed as a major step towards permanently calming the deadly tensions between the two warring neighbours. Click here

(Published in Al Jazeera English; May 24, 2018)

On the 27th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence, Isaias Afwerki should remember what he once said about democracy.

Isaias Afwerki is the first President of Eritrea, a position he has held since its independence in 1993 [Reuters]
Isaias Afwerki is the first President of Eritrea, a position he has held since its independence in 1993 [Reuters] 

Today marks the 27th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence, hard-won after a 30-year war withEthiopia. On this day, as we rightfully celebrate, we should also reflect on the overall state of the country. To do this, there is no better way than looking back to a landmark speech Eritrea’s first and only president, Isaias Afwerki, gave over two decades ago.

On September 8, 1997, in a public address at the Walton Park Conference in West Sussex, England, President Afwerki delivered profound remarks on democracy and the rule of law in a speech titled “Democracy in Africa: an African view.” 

In this address, the president listed six fundamental principles that he believes are the most essential pillars of a modern democracy, particularly in Africa:

Click here

(Published in Africa is A Country; May 24, 2018)

Recycling old images and tired ideas is also at the heart of what Eritrean state media does. Unless covering President Isaias Afwerki (since 1993), the state media continuously re-use the footage and stories of the 30-year old independence war. Flimsy development projects are disproportionately hyped. Newsworthy events are routinely ignored unless they get out control, and then the Minister of Information only responds in a tweet.The Eritrean government attempts to control its narrative in two ways: outright denial and widespread policing, which promotes fear and extends to the diaspora. Whether in the news media or asylum offices of the West, the Eritrean narrative has been reduced to the bare minimum.

Here I want to challenge this stale narrative by using personal testimonies and small incidents that paint a clearer and more detailed picture of life in Eritrea. Personal testimonies make the elites nervous and agitated. Recounting small incidents is like taking snapshots from different angles. And as the viewer and reader, I rely on you to interpret and to create a coherent narrative.

Here there is no script. Click here

(Published in Africa is A Country; March 29, 2018)

In mid-February 2018, rapper Nipsey Hussle released his first studio album, Victory Lap, a paean to his complicated relationship with Los Angeles gang life. While making the rounds on American hip hop radio stations and podcasts, if he wasn’t breaking down gang codes or marketing his various businesses, Nipsey kept returning to his roots beyond his South Central, Los Angeles neighborhood: that of his Eritrean immigrant background.

Ermias Asghedom’s father had fled the ongoing war and settled in US. By celebrating his father’s background (his mother is African-American), Nipsey was partly reflecting what Boima Tucker described elsewhere on this site as “a resurgence of an unbridled enthusiasm for Africa in black America.” In recent times, American artists of African immigrant background have openly made connections to their parents’ homelands public and explicit. Issa Rae has done so on television, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Daniel Kaluuya on film and Wale and French Montana have done so in music. The comedian Tiffany Haddish, another LA native, also has recently foregrounded her Eritrean background. Haddish recently traveled to Eritrea then wore a traditional outfit to the The Oscars. It is obvious that Haddish’s new found connection to Eritrea, has added to her confidence as a public figure. This is in contrast to a generation ago when the children of African immigrants to the US downplayed their family connections in fear of attracting ridicule.

In 2004, when he turned 18, Nipsey traveled with his father and brother, Samiel “Black Sam” Asghedom, to Asmara, the Eritrean capital and stayed three months. This trip would have a profound influence on him. Beyond just a celebration of his African heritage, it would become part of his personal mythology. It appears as inspiration for his brand of capitalism.

He admits that at first it wasn’t so easy arriving for the first time in his father’s home country: Click here to continue

ከምዚ ዝበለ ቅሉዕ ዓፈናን ውሁድ መስርሕ ኲናት ድንቍርናን እናተኻየደ ትም ኢልካ ምርኣይ ምትሕብባር’ውን ምዃኑ ስለ ዝዘከርኩ’የ እዚኣ ዝጽሕፍ ዘለኹ።

(ሕስድና’ውን ይኸውን።)

ንነፍሲ-ወከፍ ቈርበት ዘአፍፍ ተርእዮታት ክመጽእ ከሎ ከንፈር ጥራይ ረምጢጥካ ምሕላፍ’ውን ብተመሳሳሊ ምትሕብባር ወይ ድማ ታሪኻዊ ሓልፍነት ምጕዳል መሲሉ ይስመዓኒ።

ኣብዚ መስርሕ በበይኑ ደረጃን ዓይነትን ምትሕብባር’ዩ ዝርአ። ኣብ ዝለዓለ ቅርጺ ዘለዉ እናፈለጡ ዘሕሽዉ’ዮም። ካብኡ ውርድ ኢሎም ድማ ከከም ደረጃኡን ዓይነቶምን ተዓሽዮም ዘሕዕሽዉ፣ ብልቢ ዝዕሸዉ፣ ንኽዕሸዉ ባዕላቶም ባይታ ዘጣጥሑ ኣለዉ።

“ዓለማዊ ሽልማት ረሚ”

ኣብ ዝሓለፈ ኣርባዕተ-ሓሙሽተ ዓመታት ኣብ ፊልምታት ኤርትራን መራኸቢ-ብዙሃንን ሃገርናን ድሙቕ ከበሮ ዝተሃርመላን “ምስ ዓለም ተወዳዲርና ፊልምታትና ክሽለማ በቒዐን” ዘብል ተርእዮ ምርካብ ሽልማት ረሚ’ዩ ነይሩ። እዚ ኣብ ህዩስተን ቴክሳስ ዝመደበሩ ዓመታዊ ፈስቲቫል ፊልም᎓ ብንኣሽቱ ቋንቋታት ንዝፈረያ ፊልም ዘተባብዕ ደኣ ይዅን እምበር᎓ ደረጃኡስ ክንድ’ቲ ኣብ መራኽቢ-ብዙሃን ኤርትራ ዝወዓወዖ ኣይኰነን። ሓንሳብ እታ መስርሕ ምስ ተፈልጠት’ውን ዳርጋ ብዙሓት ኣፍረይቲ ፊልም ኤርትራ ተወዳዲሮም “ዓወት ክጓናጸፉ” በቒዖም’ዮም። (ኣነ ዝጸሓፍኩዋ ሓጻር-ዛንታ “ድሕሪ ውግእ”’ውን ናብ ሓጻር ፊልም ተሰሪሓስ ኣብዚ ውድድር “ተዓዊታ” ነይራ። ዝዀነ ተራ ግን ኣይነበረንን፣ ክህልወኒ’ውን ኣይደልን።) ተገዲሱ ንእሽቶ ንዝፍትሽ ደረጃ’ዚ ውድድር ፈስቲቫል ንምግምጋም ኣየጸግምን’ዩ። ኣብ መርበብ ሓበሬታ᎓ ኣዳልወቲ᎓ ፊልምታት ኣወዳዲሮም ክሽልሙ ድሌት ከም ዘይብሎምን ከም ዘይኰኑን ኣቐሚጦም ኣለዉ። “We do not believe in awarding just one Gold, Silver & Bronze, as it is impossible to pick just three winners with so many wonderful entries.” ከኣ ይብሉ።

እንተስ ሰኣን ምስትውዓል ወይ’ውን ብፍላጥ ነብስኻ ምዕሻው᎓ ኣብቲ ተደጋጊሙ ዝግበር ሸፈነ መራኸቢ-ብዙሃን ግን ኣብዚ ውድድር ክንደይ ዕዉታት ከም ዘለዋ ዘይምሕባር’ዩ። ወይ’ውን መምዘኒ እዚ ውድድር ከይገለጽካ ምሕላፍ ሓደ ካብቲ ኰነ ኢልካ ዝግበር ሃስያ’ዩ። ተወዳደርቲ ስራሕቶም ክልእኩን ምስክር ወረቐት ከዳልዉን ገንዘብ ስለ ዝኸፍሉ እቲ ዳርጋ እንኮ ቅጥዒ ውድድር’ዩ። ንኣብነት እዘን ናይ 2017 ዕዉታት ረሚ ምስ እንርኢ ልዕሊ 900 ምዃነን ንግንዘብ። እታ ብደረስቲ᎓ ዳይረክተራን ጋዜጠኛታትን ሸፈፍ ኢላ እትስገር ነጥቢ ግን ብዝሒ ዕዉታት ዘይምግላጽ’ዩ። እቲ ተራ ተዓዛቢ ከኣ “ወርቂ”᎓ “ብሩር” ወይ “ነሓስ” ተሸሊማ ክሰምዑ ከለዉ ምስኣ ኣማኢት ከም ዘለዋ ኣይፈልጡን።Continue reading

(Published in African Arguments; March 7, 2018)

The death of a respected elder while in jail has prompted an outpouring of grief and anger on the streets of Asmara.

Screenshot from a video of the recent protest in Asmara, Eritrea.

Last week, the respected elder Hajji Musa Mohammednur inspired aggrieved crowds in Eritrea‘s capital and shook the confidence of the regime. This was the second, and last, time he will have done so in the past few months.

This first occasion was when the well-known Eritrean figure was arrested last October. The 93-year-old had recently criticised a government decree to nationalise Al Diaa Islamic School, whose board he chaired. His detention was one of the triggers that prompted hundreds to take to Asmara’s streets in an uncommon show of defiance a few days later, leading to a brutal crackdown.

Speaking to parents and teachers before his arrest, Mohammednur had said he was prepared to sacrifice his life in resisting the state’s plan. The second time he stirred people to mobilise was last week when he did just that.

Mohammednur’s condition deteriorated during the months of his incarceration. In December, his poor health reportedly prompted the office of President Isaias Afwerki to instruct that he be released and put under house arrest. The nonagenarian refused to leave prison unless those arrested along with him were also let out. “You can carry my dead body out of here, but I am not leaving alone,” he is reported to have said. He died a few months later. Click here to read

(Published in Al-Jazeera English; March 1, 2018)

The alleged death in detention of veteran freedom fighter Durue deeply saddened, but also angered the Eritreans abroad.

The Eritrean regime follows the script of George Orwell's 1984 to erase prisoners of conscience from the country's collective memory, writes Zere [Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Since February 19, Eritrean social media have been flooded with tributes to Haile “Durue” Woldensae, the country’s former foreign minister who had been in incommunicado detention since September 18, 2001.

The social media reaction was ignited by a post bySacttism, a Facebook page run by an anonymous regime whistle-blower, which announced the death of Durue.

The Facebook post stated that the veteran freedom fighter died in the infamous Eirairo prison on January 25. According to the report, he was allegedly buried in the bushes near the grounds of Eirairo by guards, like many others who died in the prison camp before him.

The post received nearly 2,000 shares on Facebook and garnered a thread of comments that went beyond 4,500 in just a couple of days.

The comments reflected a wide range of feelings, including vulnerability, sorrow, anger but also a sense of guilt.

This surely must be a cause for all of us to do something,” one commentator said.

“I urge all justice-loving Eritreans to reserve a wall in their home. This wall must be filled with pictures of all prisoners of conscience,” added another. Click here to read

(Published in African Arguments; February 13, 2018)

Musicians in Eritrea used to have to sing the government’s praises to pass the censors. Now there are other ways to get heard.

Screenshot from Aytitehamel, by Eseyas Debesay and the Yohannes sisters.

In 2005, Eritrean singer Ghirmay Andom had just completed his latest album. As required by the government, he submitted the lyrics to his ten songs to the censorship office (officially known as “evaluation unit”) in the Ministry of Information.

The artist was hopeful that his uncontroversial songs of love and life would pass the censors and that he would be allowed to start distributing it. But when he finally heard back, all his lyrics had been rejected. Along with some more nitpicking comments, he was informed that: “When the country is facing lots of adversaries, it is unjustifiable to consistently sing about romance”.

Andom’s experience was far from unique. The government in Asmara has long tried to maintain a close control on artistic expression. It not only shut down the independent press in September 2001, but has also imposed a medieval practice of censorship on literature, art and music.

Before being able to broadcast or print their work, artists have had to endure long waiting periods to hear from the censorship unit, which consisted of a single official. Artists would not dare submit anything sensitive, and gaining approval was effectively reduced to appealing to the personal tastes of the censorship chief. Click here to continue