Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Eritrea: Remembering Abraham (MIT), Remembering a Generation

This article was written in by its staff.

·          by AI Staff
·          on 25 September 2015
·          in Editorial

This article is written in memory of Abraham Ghebreghiorgis (aka Abraham MIT) on the first year anniversary of his death. Abraham, one of the dynamic writers gracing as early as 2000, had been a regular contributor to the article section of the website for many years. He passed away on Sept 10, 2014.
Abraham’s story happens to be a quintessential Eritrean story of the generation that has lived through all the ups and downs of the Eritrean revolutionary journey. In it, we find all the phases that many of that era’s generation underwent as the Eritrean political and social landscape kept undergoing dramatic upheavals. In particular, his story gives us a synoptic picture of how diaspora students responded to the Eritrean call, best exemplified in the militant student organization known as Eritreans for Liberation in North America (EFLNA), more popularly known by its Tigrigna acronym “ENASEA” (ኤናሰኣ). Thus, in telling the story of Abraham in the US, we are also telling the story of the student organization and vice versa, for their respective trajectories in the political transformations they underwent happen to overlap to a great extent; that is, their stories will be used to throw light on one another so as to develop a better understanding of both; and, thereby, on that revolutionary era.
Below we will, first, briefly go through Abraham’s academic achievements. Second, we will take a closer look at EFLNA; in particular, at the ethos of sacrifice that defined it throughout its duration. Third, we will look at Abraham’s EFLNA years, and how he responded to the “Eritrean call”. Fourth, we will look art how painful was the organization’s breakup from the EPLF, and Abraham’s critical role in midwifing this divorce. And, fifth, we will go over some of Abraham’s contributions in
In this article, Asmarino staff will focus only on the “political” Abraham. For the “family man” Abraham, we have asked the family members to write a brief profile to be added to this article; thus the best part comes in the last section.

If there is one phrase that describes Abraham’s school years from elementary to higher learning, it would be: academic excellence.
Abraham was born in Adi-Quala to his father, Ghebreghiorgis Ghebreyohannes, and his mother, Sebene Kahsai on July 7th, in 1949. He grew up in Asmara, where he received his elementary (1955-1962) and junior secondary (1962-1964) education, at Geza Kenisha and Biet Ghiorgis respectively. He ended both his elementary and junior secondary education with great distinctions and received many awards. In one instance of early academic achievement, Abraham was awarded a prize by the hands of Lt. General Lij Abiye Abebe who was the representative of Emperor Haile Selassie in Eritrea during the Federation era.
As such, he easily managed to enter the prestigious General Wingate High School (1964-1968), with full scholarship. The school used to select exceptionally gifted students from the provinces. Abraham highly enjoyed the General Wingate School and developed voracious reading habit there that stayed with him for the rest of his lifetime. He also excelled in his Matriculation Exam, with straight ‘A’s for all the eight subjects he took, a rare achievement that earned him the Haile Selassie Prize Award. He received an Omega golden watch from the hands of Emperor Haile Selassie and 100 Birr per month allowance (equivalent to a teacher’s monthly salary at that time) in his campus years.  In 1968, this award for unusual academic excellence was shared with only one other student in the entire country.
Continuing this tradition of academic excellence, Abraham won Fulbright Scholarship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1970-1973) while he was a second year student at Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa (1968-1970). He happened to appreciate the dedication and competitiveness of MIT student life. His forte was in modeling and rigorous mathematics. But it was not all academics, for it was in MIT that he was exposed to the intricacies of the Eritrean liberation movements and the Eritrean Diaspora in Boston. As a result, for the first time in his student life, he started becoming active in politics. He graduated from MIT with Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering.
And again, consistent with his academic achievement in the past, Abraham was given full scholarship for PHD in Mathematics from John Hopkins University. He declined the offer. This was the first time that Abraham prioritized something else over his academic pursuance. He believed that there was greater need for him somewhere else: the struggle for the liberation of Eritrea. Here, we witness a tangible enactment of the ethos of sacrifice that was to define the Eritrean community in North America during the 70s.
Abraham was to return to campus only after the demise of EFLNA. He entered Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1980, and achieved a Master’s Degree in Law and Diplomacy in 1982.
Those who knew Abraham in his school years remember him as a very serious student singularly focused on his studies; that is, even in his early years. A friend at Biet Ghiorgis School remembers him as a sober student, and somewhat introvert; that he was more of a listener than a talker, rarely initiating response on his own and often the last to respond in class. Another friend from his Wingate years similarly remembers him as a hard working, studious student. And those who knew him at the university in Addis Ababa remember him as remaining totally apolitical throughout his campus years [to the resentment of some of his peers], and entirely focused on his engineering studies. The tumultuous leftist student movement of that era, which was very active in those years, hardly affected him. This is indeed in great contrast to his EFLNA years; that is, Abraham became politicized not in Eritrea, not in Ethiopia, but in the USA – which, by itself, is an interesting phenomenon.
In 1983 he was employed at Verizon, and had been working there for 25 years, first as an economist, then as financial analyst until retirement in 2008. He passed away on Sept 10, 2014 as a result of colon cancer.  He has been survived by his wife Azezet Abraha, his sons Andom and Semere and his daughter Zied. 
Now, let us look back at those intense EFLNA years, with the spirit of sacrifice that defined a whole generation as our primary focus, since only within that background would the Abraham’s story that we want to tell make sense.

Often, when the subject of “sacrifice” in the Eritrean context arises, it is the sacrifice of the teghadallti (the guerrilla freedom fighters) at mieda that is mostly pointed at. To a lesser extent, the larger population in mainland Eritrea that supported the struggle in various ways and had to go through many hardships is also mentioned. But to fully grasp how the spirit of the times engulfed the Eritrean mind, there is no better place to see it than in diaspora; and among the diaspora, the student organization in North America.
In the 70s, a nationalist fever engulfed the Eritrean students in North America. In its strict adherence to its self-imposed revolutionary principles, a quasi-religious atmosphere prevailed among EFLNA’s members. Some would even go as far as saying that it was more of a cult-like climate. When one of the leaders of the organization interviewed for this article was asked on how this cult-like phenomenon evolved, he says that it should be looked at from the greater context of the times, and that we shouldn’t be judgmental. Globally, it was an idealistic era, with the idea of revolution finding resonance among many of the so-called enlightened groups. And then, of course, let’s not forget that in mainland Eritrea, the revolution was framed in similar terms: the oppressed Eritreans fighting against the Ethiopian imperialists. Besides, peer pressure and guilt consciousness had a great role to play, he adds.
But there are others who disagree, and instead invoke not only the idealist era but also the participants’ young age to fully grasp the unusual realty that emerged then. Another friend of Abraham, who was also part of the broader leadership, objects to the label “cult-like” altogether; and instead points to the fact that almost all of the members were young, in the ages between 20 and 30, and hence that the then prevailing atmosphere has to be looked at with that particular extenuating circumstance in mind.
Whichever way the era was described though, there is one thing that all seem to agree: that it undoubtedly was an era of sacrifice. All agree that a highly disciplined student community whose sole priority was securing the liberation of Eritrea emerged in those years, making sacrifice the ultimate virtue. Some sacrificed their education; others their livelihood; others family life, and still others postponed all kinds of private life. The goal was to emulate the ascetic life of the freedom fighters in the fields of Eritrea.
The ascetic life was to be seen everywhere, in almost everything that the students did. All kinds of excesses were denounced and frugality was championed across the board, with the critical difference in time, resources, money and even emotion to be sacrificed; with all that had been “frugally saved” being promptly channeled to the revolution. In short, one’s private life had to be almost given up for the Greater Cause. Anyone that dared to wear flashy or expensive clothes or who frequented nightclubs or other entertainments was frowned upon. Eating community prepared meals at meeting places of the organization was encouraged. Many others lived in crowded apartments, trying to save as much as possible from rent.
The payoff of this across-the-board sacrifice was to be seen in the staggering amount of money they used to collect. Besides the amount of money that each chapter was assigned to raise, there were competitive donations that were made in various occasions. In an organization of around 800 members only [the Eritrean diaspora population in North America was very small at that time], and for that made up mainly of students, the money channeled to the coffers of the EPLF was of huge amount. For instance, by 1979, when the organization decided to disband, it had almost one million dollars in the bank; money that eventually was to be forwarded to the EPLF.
The role the diaspora money collected [not only from the students in North America, but also from the housemaids in Italy and Middle East] played at mieda shouldn’t be underestimated, especially since it came at a very critical time. With the expulsion of Saleh Sabe from the EPLF, the money source from the Arab world had dried up. Thus, the diaspora money arrived when the EPLF was facing a dire financial crisis to meet the minimum demands of the extensive guerrilla warfare it was conducting then.
This self-imposed frugality was also to be witnessed in the precious time the students were willing to spend in the service of the Struggle. Every Sunday, there was a general meeting with its emphasis on political education that everyone had to attend; no excuses were accepted. If one was unable to make it, he/she was heavily criticized in the leftist format of “criticism and self-criticism”. Any straying from the party line was a no-no – the endless meetings were meant to instill this fact above everything else. In addition to the general meetings, each one was advised to be active in at least one of the various committees. Every member had to take turn in attending to the household chorus in the meeting places, such as cooking, dish washing and cleaning. In short, the life of the students seemed to revolve around this single issue of the Struggle; everything else became secondary.
But this ethos of “sacrifice” is understood best if it is stretched to include the emotional involvement that one was willing to invest. That is, one’s emotional displays towards others – one’s own family members, friends, lovers, acquaintances, etc – had to be frugally saved for the Greater Cause. One of Abraham’s friends, while reminiscing on that era, provides a memorable example. He says that they were not even allowed to mourn the death of their dear ones properly, the rationale being that one shouldn’t put one’s personal loss above the national one. He was speaking from his own experience; when his father died, he had to keep the pain pent up within himself, any emotional display being taken as sign of weakness. At a time when thousands were getting killed at mieda in the war of independence, focusing on one’s own individual losses was totally discouraged.
The EFLNA members were so engrossed in their Cause that the rest of the world was shut out. They did this in two ways: by making a minimal social contact with Eritreans who were unwilling to be part of the organization and by ignoring the larger world in whose midst they were living. Thus, a somewhat insulated world was created.                                                                                                                             
Above, we have been looking at the 70s era of sacrifice as embodied in the Eritrean students of North America, in almost everything they did: from the cheap clothes they wore, the shared foods they ate, flashy entertainments they avoided, crowded apartments they slept, precious times they spent on the Cause to the communal lives they lived. Now, we will see how that era of sacrifice exhibited itself in one man, Abraham Ghebreghiorgis.

We see the generational sacrifice described above in Abraham EFLNA years in three areas: education, career and family. This is because he felt that he would need all his resources – time-wise, financial, mental, emotional, etc – should go to the Struggle. The fact that Abraham was not only a member but also one of the leaders also provides us with a unique perspective to understand that era better.
The Strive for Education curbed
When Abraham finished his undergraduate studies at MIT, as pointed above, he was given the option of joining the prestigious John Hopkins University, with full scholarship for a PHD in Mathematics. But he declined the offer believing that it would derail him from serving the Eritrean cause in his capacity as one of the EFLNA leadership. When Abraham was asked by EFLNA to join the leadership, he had convinced them to let him finish his undergraduate study first given that it was only one year left for him to complete it. After that, there was no way he could plan for a post-graduate study. As many of his other colleagues, it is clear he had to curb his ambition in education and career for the sake of the Cause.
Once he became one of the five in the leadership position, he had to commit himself totally to the Cause. That means this was to be a full-time job. As a Political Commissar, he was in charge of the political education of the members. And as a militant political organization, it was imperative that the organization had to build the political consciousness of the members to a high level. As such, Abraham was selecting and preparing (and sometimes translating) topics for studies, reading and tutorial. This included Eritrean history, the then current situation in Eritrea and, of course, the indispensable theoretical framework of Marxism-Leninism through which prism everything was assessed.
So how did the leaders who were committed full-time to the Cause manage to live? Well, it goes without saying that they had to lead by example. The five leaders used to live in one bedroom apartment. All they used to get was $200.00 monthly stipend from the money collected from members. Even though their rent was also paid by others, you can imagine living in New York (out of all places!) with that kind of money. No wonder then that their lives were extremely ascetic, proudly reflecting the life at mieda. These self-imposed hardships made sense to them because the benchmark of comparison was always the hardships of the freedom fighters.
In many instances, this demand for sacrifice was not only imposed upon themselves, but also upon their beloved ones. In fact, there is an interesting story to tell that sums up this ethos of sacrifice that defined that era that didn’t even spare one’s own family – a “farewell letter” that Abraham sent to his parents years after he decided to fully commit himself to the Cause.
The Farewell Letter
Abraham came from a modest family and all his adult life he strived to help his parents as the eldest child; that is, except for that brief era of sacrifice. His attempt to financially support his family started when he was a student at Haile Selassie University. Being fortunate enough to get 100 Birr a month allowance for his academic excellence, he was able to financially help the family at that early age. Once he was given a scholarship abroad though, he was forced to discontinue that help for he had to save for various expenses, however painful to him that decision was. Nevertheless, he started to help his family again as soon as he found his footing in the US; that is, while he was still a student. It is important to know all this background, for what he was about to do was radically the opposite: he was willing to stop all the financial help to the family in order to divert his energy to the Cause. The spirit of the time as embodied in the Eritrean students in North America seems to be encapsulated in this unarticulated motto: the greater Eritrean family over the nuclear family! This “nuclear family” has to be understood in two senses: not only were the parents and siblings one already had were to be bypassed, but the family that one wanted to have was to be postponed [Abraham was married in 1984].
When Abraham decided that the nation came ahead of the family, he cut off his contact with his family for years. In his letter, he provided a belated explanation why he had to do this. The statement that notoriously summed up his state of mind in that letter was: “The family problem cannot be solved until the Eritrean problem is solved.” And he acted upon this strange belief that defined the times: he went on to solve the national problem (as he understood it), fully deferring the family problem. His father understandably got furious, and he purportedly said, “How dare he equate me with the rest of the nation? Wasn’t I who brought him up to this position?”
Abraham’s brothers tried to reconstruct the letter from memory:

መልእኽቲ ኣብርሃም ገብረጊዮርጊስ ኣብ 1977 ድሕረ ምምላስ
ካብ ቀዳማይ ውድባዊ ጉባኤ ንስድራ ቤቱ ዝለኣኾ ደብዳቤ
ክቡራት ስድራ ቤት
ብመጀመርታ ብዙሕ ናፍቆት ዝበዝሖ ሰላምታ፡ ቀጺለ ድማ 3 ወርሒ ዝኸውን ኣብ ሜዳ ኤርትራ በጺሐ ከምዝነበርኩ ክሕብር ይፈቱ። መጺእኩም ክትሪኡኒ እዃ እንተበሃግኹ፡ ናይ ሰውራ ጉዳይ ብሚስጢር ክተሓዝ ስለዘለዎን ሓደጋ ከይበጽሓናን ብምሕላይ ኢየ።
እምበኣር ንነዊሕ ዓመታት ብምጥፈኤይ ከይገረመኩምን ከይተሸገርኩምን ኣይተርፍን፡ የግዳስ ኣነ ንሃገረይ ክገልግል ስለዝመረጽኩን ስለዝተወፈኹን ኢየ። ኣነ ብመጀመርታ ንኣቦይን ንኣደይን የፍቅር፡ ፍቅሪ ወለደይ ድማ ንሃገረይ ከፍቅር ደሪኹኒ። ትምህርተይ ተከታቲለን፡ ስራሕ ሰሪሐን ሽግርኩም ንክፈትሕ ምፈተንኩ፡ ግን ናይ ሃገር ሽግር ክይተፈትሐ ሽግርኩም መሰረታዊ ፍታሕ ክረክብ ስለዘይክእል ንሃገረይ ተወፍየ ከገልግል መሪጸ።
ብኩነታተይ ብዙሕ ኣይትሻቐሉ፡ ዓወትና ናይ ግድን ስለዝኾነ።
ምስ ብዙሕ ሰላምታ፡
ወድኹምን ሓውኹምን
ኣብርሃም ገብረጊዮርጊስ  
This idea of giving oneself totally to the Cause, with no divergent attention demanded by family or career, clearly depicts the state of mind of the EFLNA. And for those at leading position, this self-imposed demand was no less than 100 percent. That is why Abraham felt that he had to divorce himself from family matters completely if he was to serve the Struggle in his full capacity as one of the leadership.

Even though Eritrean students in North America began to organize themselves around 1970 under the name of Eritrean Youth for Liberation, it was done locally and lacked a unitary structure. To redress this, in 1971, the organization conducted its first congress, and renamed itself as Eritreans for Liberation. It took one more year for it to adopt the name by which it has been known ever since – EFLNA. Even though it had made contact with the EPLF since 1971, it took five years more, in 1976, for it to officially identify itself as part of the EPLF body. And in 1977, as part of that body, the student organization sent its delegates to attend the Congress at mieda. Abraham was one of the 9-members group of the EFLNA that went to join the 1977 Congress.
After the student delegates came back, the climate was positive and upbeat. Andemichael Kahsay came to visit the organization with a message of solidarity from mieda. It was not until 1978 that cracks began to appear. The breach was based on the relationship of the Soviet Union and the Derg vs. Eritrea. The members couldn’t understand why on earth the EPLF would refuse to condemn the Soviet Union, even as the latter kept arming its mortal enemy, namely Ethiopia, to the teeth. The students invoked a theoretical framework to their help: given that to forgo communism was unthinkable, they labeled the Soviet Union as “revisionist” and “social imperialist”. This way, they could keep their communist ideology as they kept condemning the Soviet Union, with China or Albania filling in the gap for ideological guidance. The crisis reached its final stage when in 1978 the EFLNA leadership and members condemned the EPLF leadership and dissociated the organization from being part of the EPLF body.
Till the day of the split, even during the years when it was unambiguously part and parcel of the EPLF body, EFLNA had kept its organizational autonomy and was publishing its own periodicals. This fact made the dissociation easy to perform at a technical level. That cannot be said though at the emotional level.
Soon after the breakup, an existential crisis began to emerge in the organization: What was EFLNA supposed to do after having severed itself from the freedom fighters in Eritrea? How was it supposed to retain a link with mieda once it had cut off the connection with the only movement the members had believed to be the vanguard of the revolution? The lack of clear purpose that emerged as a result of the split was almost killing the organization. It was not long before many of the members began to wonder whether they had gone too extreme in totally severing the link. Already, many had defected to the EPLF camp. And the rest needed a framework that would provide them with an honorable exit without capitulating to the EPLF. And here is where Abraham, who was still part of the leadership at that time, came up with a brilliant compromise.
Characteristic of Abraham, what he recommended was the two consecutive steps that have been the hallmarks of his workings: first, to undertake a rigorous study in regard to the problem (and involved the members in the undertaking of the study) and, second, to seek consensus or compromise before offering a solution. As such, Abraham was central in developing the Timre-Temkro – that is, the appraisal of the decisive resolution taken by the organization and its results – which was critical in finding a resolution to the dead end brought by the organization’s new radical stand against the EPLF. Basically, it was a summation and evaluation of the organization’s one year experience after the schism with EPLF.  
The Timre-Temkro comprised of two important points that, looking back, should be considered quite new phenomena in ghedli experience. First, the leadership admitted mistakes taken in both strategy and tactics, making EFLNA the only Eritrean organization that evaluated its experiences and left a summation of its achievements and mistakes in print. No other organization from the ghedli era has ever done that. Since this self-critical approach is still lacking among the opposition camp, this step taken by EFLNA is not to be underestimated in terms of the legacy it left for future organizations to emulate.
Second, Abraham cleverly postulated on who is “nationalist” in a way that would allow the EFLNA to pass in between the two horns of the dilemma it had created for itself. At those times every Eritrean group and organization were accusing other organizations as non-nationalists and reactionaries. Abraham’s reformulation was that “a nationalist is whoever is struggling to make Eritrea free”. Hence, for the first time in EFLNA, the ELF, EPLF and other Eritrean groups started to be taken on equal standing within the organization. This is indeed a great step for the organization, which until then believed the EPLF to be the only vanguard of the revolution.
It is not that others before Abraham failed to equate ELF with EPLF; actually many did. Thus, the merit of Abraham’s approach is to be found not in the equating itself, but in the categorical approach that allowed this equating, albeit at a lower level, within the organization – among others. Let’s see how the invoked distinction achieve that.
The honorable exit that EFLNA members were seeking was to be found in this new distinction between being merely nationalistic or patriotic and being the vanguard of the revolution. It required being fully revolutionary in all its communist sense to qualify as the latter, while any force that fights the enemy in the name of the nation would qualify as the former. An example that Abraham invoked in his defense of this distinction was the Chinese experience. In the fight against the Japanese occupiers, the brief alliance between the Communists and Chiang Kai-shek imperial forces provided a theoretical/ideological framework for EFLNA’s resolution, the rationale being that it was OK to make alliance with nationalists when there is a bigger enemy that threatens the nation.
Given that the EPLF had failed the revolutionary test (after having failed to denounce “revisionist” Soviet Union), it was downgraded to being merely a nationalistic movement. Now, instead of total severance, this downgrading made three things possible. First, it made sense for the EFLNA to continue working with the EPLF, if the latter would allow it. Second, it made the ELF as acceptable as the EPLF. Third, the analysis would leave EFLNA as the only true vanguard of the revolution.
Looked at retrospectively, all this might sound like semantic splitting. But at the time, any solution had to come in its communist grab, or it wouldn’t be found acceptable by the members. But however ingenious was the solution, it depended on the movements at mieda to provide purpose to the EFLNA’s mission. Needless to say, both ELF and EPLF rejected the extended hand, albeit in its qualified form, of the organization; the former still smattering from the years of antagonistic stand it faced from the student organization and the latter totally outraged by the audacity of the upstart students. Deprived of its mieda link, it was clear then that the student organization wouldn’t last long. On the year of 1978, it came to its final dissolution. Thus, even though the distinction provided many members clear conscience with which they would be able to cut off their former revolutionary link with EPLF, in the end they couldn’t find enough of a purpose to hold their organization together.
Years passed between Abraham’s EFLNA years and (as a writer) years; and there is no better comparison to look at for the radical political transformation that Abraham underwent.

In his Asmarino years, Abraham wrote on a number of subjects, both under various pennames and under his real name. As early as 2000, he was critical of Eritrean intellectuals, of having failed across the board in challenging the regime in Asmara in its humanitarian abuses and in its economic, political and war policies. But the three subjects that mattered to him most, and to which he kept coming back again and again to address them exhaustively, were those of the “constitution”, “rule of law” and “national language”.
He was very logical in his approach, and at times it required courage to address them. Now compiled in his website, its entry makes it clear: “The Eritrean Mereb advocates for constitutional liberalism, the respect of the rule of law, the protection of property rights, peace and free trade in Eritrea.” If one goes by the content of this website, it is clear that Abraham was consumed by the rule of law and constitutionalism. Even the subjects of language, religion and minority rights are addressed within the parameters of rule of law and constitutionalism.
Abraham believed that, in spite of its shortcomings, the ratified constitution should not only be the base upon which the future democratic Eritrea has to be built, but also could be effectively used as a rallying point for the opposition. He thought that, given the fractured nature of the opposition, the constitution could be the minimum program upon which all could converge:
On the rule of law, the most memorable quotation says,
“We know that there is no rule of law in Eritrea, worse; there are no known rules of any kind, only arbitrary edicts and decrees. In fact the very People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) itself does not abide by the rules of its own organization. It is an organization that is gliding haphazardly without political radar even of the socialist kind.” [The Coup D’etat in Eritrea]
Even though he was a vocal proponent of democracy, he didn’t fall into the wrong description of the regime that the majority in the opposition subscribe, namely that the problem of Isaias regime is merely the failure of democratic credentials (or the non-implementation of the constitution). Even though he was an ardent believer in the ratified constitution, he did realize that the extent of the malady that afflicted the system went beyond the failure of its implementation. The fact that the organization cannot even follow its own rules means that it could only thrive in an arbitrary world symptomatic of highly authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. Thus, according to him, the Eritrean masses are not simply the victims of lack of democracy, but of lack of any kind of rule of law that you find even in absolute monarchies or various dictatorships. Abraham’s phrase “a regime that doesn’t even follow its own rules” aptly captures this abnormal phenomenon that has victimized the nation for years on end.
Another principled stand that Abraham courageously took was against the standard view of the majority that had to do with the status of Arabic as a national language. He firmly believed that was a short sighted stand that had no logical basis and that would have dire consequences in the future. Again, he was being scrupulously logical in his approach, as he kept demolishing one argument after another, without giving in to public opinion or political correctness. He always considered that religion and national language should not be linked in any way with one another, a pitfall that Eritreans keep ignoring to their peril.
Instead, he boldly proposed that English should be the working language of Eritrea. His approach, though scrupulously logical, was entirely pragmatic; his assessment was based on the merits of adopting English language in the 21st century: as the most universal language, as a language of science, as a language of books, as the language of future, as a language of internet, as a language of trade and commerce, etc. 
His mixing of rigorousness in study with flexibility in suggestions that have been his hallmark in finding resolutions to problems can also be seen when he amended his proposal to meet the plausible demands of many of his readers:
“In my first post, I received some constructive criticisms by wise and astute compatriots. I went back to the drawing board and did further research. Now, I admit that one cannot conduct affairs that are of cultural and national nature in a foreign language, though this is usually of a symbolic nature, for example the conducting of as simple as a national anthem. This involves matter of national identity, dignity and pride. That is also how Singapore addresses its working language issues; that is English is the working language of all matters; however, when it comes to issues of identity then affairs are conducted in Malay, one of the three official languages along with English. I reconsider my original position of sticking only to English as the working language of Eritrea. Instead, I recommend that English to be one the working languages of Eritrea, along with Eritrean native languages. As to the native languages, my personal desire is to designate Tigrinya and Tigre as the official languages of Eritrea because of their wide coverage of the Eritrean population.” (The Language Question Revisited)
One thing that seemed to be frustrating to Abraham was Eritreans’ tendency to look at things collectively rather than individually. Abraham realized that a collective approach to the recalcitrant problems of Eritrea was doomed to fail; hence his holding the individual above the collective in matters of “rights”. For instance, in the land issue, he persistently advocated for private ownership, even as he sympathized with the collective grievances that the regime’s land policy engendered. So is it with minority rights; he advocated that individual rights would address most of the collective concerns.

There is something enduring that characterizes Abraham both in his consistency and transformation, however contradictory that may seem at first look. If one looks at his “methodology” throughout his ELFNA years or in the years since, what remained consistent is the two-step approach we have noticed above: first, undertaking a rigorous study of the problematic subject matter; and second, seeking a consensus or compromise in the solution offered. We have seen how this methodology was applied not only in the EFLNA crisis, but also in all the issues he addressed in his years: the constitution, the language issue, the land issue, the minority rights issue, etc.
But consistency in methodology doesn’t mean consistency in political outlook; hence, his political transformation. In his EFLNA years, especially in his leadership years, as a political commissar, Abraham was the one who was not only selecting the leftists reading material for political consciousness, but was also translating Stalinist literature. On the other hand, in his asmarino years, he became an avowed advocate of individual liberty. To grasp how big this transformation had been, one need only realize that Abraham’s most quoted writer was none other than Friedrich Hayek, a man famously known for his defense of individualism and classical liberalism. From collectivist ideas of Marx to the individualist world of Hayek, that is indeed the longest road one could transverse in the political world.                                                                                              
Thus, if there is one phrase that aptly describes Abraham, it would be: scrupulously logical and principled without being dogmatic.
So long, Abraham – Asmarino misses you!
Asmarino Staff


·         MW  
Dear all,
In the above article I noticed a curious comment that considered the particular brand of Marxism-Leninism that Abraham Ghebreghiorgis and the EPLF were enchanted by. They branded the Soviet Union as revisionist and social imperialist and debated the need for the denunciation of it. About the same time that debate happened the TPLF and the EPRP had also the same deliberations. Since the TPLF was hooked up with the EPLF, it can be thought that the EPLF shared ideological updates with the TPLF. On the other hand, they both claimed they had differences in the past so whether they sat together to formulate emerging ideological updates is not clear. However, the EPLF and the EPRP were not doing ideological peer reviews of each other. In fact the TPLF and the EPRP were enemies seeking the demise of one another at the time. How is it possible then that all three came up with identical ideological updates with exactly the same terms and expressions describing positions? It is not possible unless there is a third party common to them all reviewing their doctrines. My suspicion is that they all had a common foreign puppeteer captaining them.

"To me, that story narrated above is about her - a story of a great Habesha woman. She is the one who deserves admiration"
Dear MW, Sir
I agree with you a million times about the indefatigable,wise and loyal Habesha WOMAN. And I am also in tune with your analysis about the LOST generation of Habesha Intellectuals with their toxic "modern education" system -- which leaves its victims with artificial superiority complex, camouflaging the true consequence i.e. INFERIORITY complex. 
Over the years ( indeed, a long time) I have already enunciated my opinion in fragmented pieces, here and there, written and verbal. 
"Eritrea" will NEVER reach it potentials greatness unless it is prepared to recognize and accept the REALITY of its true TRUE history -- along with the reality of international politics
Re: Lat paragraph 
" it potentials", please correct it to read: "its potential"
"true", delete. [retain TRUE as is] 
Thank You.

I don't believe my own eyes! Is that you, r.dachuben, Asmarino's asset? Welcome back brother. I/we missed you a lot.
Whenever I read the breathtaking comments of MW, It reminds me the book, THE PROTOCOLS OF THE LEARNED ELDERS OF ZION.
Dear Brother Daniel Yemane,
You better believe your eyes. Yes, I am the r.dachuben -- still flapping and swimming (erratically as it may be)! Long story!
Thank you very much for the generous and heart-warming
welcoming gesture (I mean it).
May “Eritrea”, one bright day, come to its senses and find
its way by itself for its OWN benefit. Fragmentation requires no imagination.
This is a phenomenal summary of the sacrifice paid in the making?? of Eritrea. Trying to read it line to line with a sensation of the immense sacrifice, the tragedy and loss of direction in the Eritrea of now takes graphic image, job well done Asmarino staff!
But the challenge out of the box of sacrifice is obscurity in bridging the starting and end points in the process. In other words to make it easier understand where we are now history needs more about where we were. And if the style of the emperor who recognizes quality and intellect by awarding scholarship plus an omega watch was part of where we were, no wonder confusion or loss of direction to be part of an image of where we are.

Lebona's question is mean and out of place. Abraham was naturally a smart guy and took advantage of every academic opportunity availed to him. Why is Selassie the bogey man here? The king was 1000 times better than the afaf IA. We all got the best that Haile Sellasie can offer in terms of education opportunities granted to selected few while Haile Sellasie was simultaneously suppressing Eritreans' resistance to his iron will. I knew Abraham barely and he was a decent man-- even a little shy or aloof but nevertheless the smartest guy in the room. Leftist ideology in the 70s was the thing to do as well as having afros, bell bottom pants, and platform was a generational thing and life experienc.. So Zekere calm should have enjoyed the beautifully written memorial of MIT as was known then.. Asmarino should be thanked for remembering a good man who is no longer with us.

Dear John592,
I promise to calm down, and say this: the emperor was progressive in his early years governing Ethiopia; say some historians. Had he stepped down and let some sort of constitutional monarchy or other kind of government, the empire would have been spared the military regime under Mengistu, and equally the guerrillas, who are simply glamorized military, who weren't from the barracks, but student radicals who lived by imposing themselves on poor peasants in Eritrea and the rest of Ethiopia. Had he stepped down, the minuscule bureaucrats and technocrats together with the support of the West would probably have come up with a better governance and avoid the war by the fanos of the left. I therefore blame the emperor and the nobility for leaving us with these wolves. I blame however much more my generation, and myself for the horror we delivered in the region. Your comparison to student riots in the West isn't fair at all. People in the west demonstrated, grew their hair, and wore bell bottom pants, took drugs, but society restrained them before they were able to launch millenarian movements. Our society failed to do that for many reasons, and lived in hell for decades.

I believe there's nothing surprising in the "I became poitically active in the US" part of comrade MIT's life. Most African students - including Eritreans - were turned into hardcore revolutionaries because of their stay in the US.
Most of them faced racism for the first time. The only antiracist campus movements at the time were Marxist-Leninist organizations (Spartacist League, RCP-USA, Black Panthers...etc) or Panafricanist movements.
Kwame Nkrumah became politically active only after his studies in the US for example.
They also became aware of Eritrean nationalism because of the conceptual framework they evolved in their American years. For the first time, key issues such as self-determination and social justice were openly discussed.
On the other side, they gave their friends and siblings at home revolutionary material that didn't exist in Addis or Asmara (cf Bahru Zewde's research on the Ethiopian student movement.
Very interesting article ! It's the first time in a long time i found anything that interesting on 

Selam Some communist guy,
Haile Selassie University's Kennedy library was full of the works of Marx, Engles, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao and other communist authors at that time. It was also possible to get these Marxist books and Peking Review, for free, by writing to the Chinese Communist Party publishers.
Abraham Ghebreghiorgis, what a marvellous chap!
To be a left-wing Marxist when young, and to turn into a full blown liberal at middle age is a natural path of development for many a healthy and dynamic mind. For example, if one checks the backgrounds of most of the prominent neo-Con individuals in the USA, one will discover that they used to be Trotskyists in their youth.
The 60's and the 70's were times of revolutions. From Latin America through Africa and all the way to the Far East, a universal feeling of change was in the air. Even the USA and Europe were not spared from this emotional tide. Frustrated with the failure of the post-war dream, the hippie and anti-war movements in the USA, student uprising in France, the Baader-Meinhof terror gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy were all caught up in the tide of youth idealism trying to challenge the established order. All of these were leftists, some were seriously enamoured with Marxism as a panacea for all ills of society. But this was a false path, as history has shown.
Meanwhile, in the countries that the Western and Third-World youth idolised, i.e. the Soviet Block, China, North Korea, Cuba, and later on in Indo-China (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) dictatorships were being consolidated, and individual rights being crushed. Tanks were rolling in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the notorious cultural revolution was in full swing in China, all crushing every sign of dissent in their path.
A friend of mine with cynical and sarcastic inclination once observed as follows: A paradox - Most of those Third-World students who go on scholarships to the West end up being left-wing Marxists, while those sent to the Eastern block turn to be business men.
I can with a good deal certainty state that Marxism was imported to the Ethiopian student movement, single handedly, by none other than Dr. Eshetu Chole (Economics) of Haile Selassie University. Eshetu was on a scholarship to the USA. Well known friends of Eshetu were individuals such as Yohannes Sebhatu (Eritrea- Digsa) and Afeworki Teklu (Eritrea- Adi Teklezan), who, after joining the EPLF, were labelled, defamed, isolated and murdered by Isaias and his friends (some of whom, now, claim to be democrats and are thrown, by their former friend, to prison).
The youth were caught in the spirit of the time. During the French Revolution, the English poet William Wordsworth wrote:
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!
Of course, there were problems during the Haile Selassie's regime. The most important being:
1) An unjust land holding system,
2) Economic stagnation and lack of social mobility,
3) The exclusion of most ethnic groups from power sharing (southern groups were made invisible, punishment was meted out to Tigray etc.)
These and some others provided an alibi for a revolution.
But in Eritrea, there were two major problems. The age old ambition of Muslim Arabs to complete the unfinished business of capturing highland Ethiopia/Eritrea through their proxies (local clones), and the intense desire of the urbanized Eritrean highland petty-bourgeoisie to be its own boss.
The rest is history.
But, now, with sufficient hindsight, have any lessons been learnt by all those groups, on both sides of the problem, or are they still in denial?
Touching. Endearing. Abraham’s life is emblematic of sheer brains, exceptional intellects, along with the corresponding pristine personality make-ups that a certain 'rising' Eritrea had produced. Dashed, lost in the march of history cum other translations, or still living as a model, a guide, of what should be about a good and true Eritrean today and in the future? The most outstanding aspect of this piece is that it is by its very composition much more than a standard eulogy of a departed, It records, it opens a register, for lives and itineraries of the many 'unsung', It provides crucial elements that have to,,one day, be factored in and knowledgeably processed to seriously understand the free fall of our society and the tenebrous situation it is i these last decades.
These two articles, reflecting very different sides of a truly remarkable man, not only help us all know him better but also bring Eritrean history alive. They tell so many stories which are so important for all Eritreans to know. Stories not only about how the young revolutionary Eritreans thought about things and organized themselves in those early years of the struggle but also are a reminder of the most important aspects of Eritrean culture - love of learning, commitment to justice, gentle caring for friends and family. In these difficult times, these values are the anchors which all Eritreans (and those who love Eritrea) should hold on to with all our strength.

I think, this article is the first of its type to discuss the role of an Eritrean nationalist and his generation in a critical way. In methodology, it resembles the works of the deceased. What I don't understand is this: how did the educational system in Ethiopia produce such kind of people like Abraham and the rest of his generation, who easily get smitten with foreign ideologies, but had little understanding of the political and social landscape of their country, and not least the obligation to the family. Did Haile Selassie's educational system fail them? Or, were they the ones at fault, or both? What went wrong with the primers like Lema Be Temheri Bet, and Lema Be Gebeya etc.? The Omega watch was the familiar prize from the emperor for gifted students, but did the winners understand their times. If not, does this generation deserve an homage?

How did the education in Ethiopia produce such kind of people like Abraham?
1) Odd Arne Westad's "The Global Cold War": Ethiopia in the early 1950s and 1960s did not have enough teachers so the Imperial government relied on foreign teachers as the peace corps p.e. Westad explains that many of the US peace corps were leftist sympathizers and brought their ideologies with them in Third World countries.
2) Its not only the educational system but also the social and political tructure. Feudalism was a reality to many Ethiopian farmers. Modern education and feudalism are incompatible. And of course, the lack of democracy contributed to radicalize student and workers' movements (Also remember that for a short 10 years period Eritrea had autonomous institutions and a vaguely democratic society which was replaced by Ethiopian feudalism that triggered a lot of reactions).
3) Why foreign ideologies? As soon as the Eritrean national movement and the Ethiopian student movement started to embrace Marxism-Leninism, theoretical discussions were so profound that they produced local interpretations of socialism and communism. The EPRP, the EPLF, the ELF or MEISON were not copycats of the Soviet Union communist party, they were truly unique!
-> Of course this generation deserves an homage. For the Eritrean cause, they incarnated the second wave of heavy politicization (after the 1950s). For Ethiopia, they were the first to openly discuss social and democratic revolution. What actually defeated this wonderful political period is Mengistu's clique.

Dear Zekre Lebona,
While dinning at a restaurant together, a self-proclaimed Ethiopist - Chicago University Sociology Professor Donald Levine, once told me to my face that there is no Ethiopian scholar -modern scholar- at all. I was confused at the time. Delving into the matter more later, I saw that he was right. There is no such thing as modern Ethiopian scholar at all. There is only modern zombie.
My answer to your question will be this: I think Atse Haileselassie failed them. After his return from exile the British had already entrapped Atse Haileselassie while in exile. The British accompanied the king in ousting Italy not because they wanted to help Ethiopia but because they wanted to enslave Ethiopia. When the British came to "drive out" Italy, there was a flurry of Q'nie (allegory synthesis) being spun in Q'nie bets and in traditional schools. Among the Ge'ez Q'nies, one roughly translated goes:
Here comes one vowing to drive out the other.
What are we to make of it?
When the good book warns to wit
That Satan never casts out Satan
Except even more to indwell therein.
So the British came and demanded to occupy Midre Bahri peaceably
and they pushed and pressed the Muslims to write in Arabic and to demand more space for Islam. They also incited the locals, especially manipulating those who were imbued with foreign religion-like doctrines like WoldeAb WoldeMariam for turmoil. Meantime in mainland Ethiopia they demanded to start modern (European) schooling and by peace they got what they asked for. Quickly they provided soaps, goat milk and other luring tokens to get the public to send children to school. The British (and the Americans later) formulated curricula of indoctrination (not education). In brief the schools indoctrinated students on the supremacy of Europe over Ethiopia.
In subtle language the schools taught children how to look down upon their
ancestors, the immediate need to throw away their faith, that heroes are in Europe and never in Africa, that speaking English is a mark of great distinction but speaking Ge'ez is woefully primitive, that opening up one's resources for foreign plundering is stylishly modern, that protecting the national treasure is backward and dictatorial. The schools told students that Ethiopian history is to be told strictly by the European and all documents and monuments and artifacts and oral tradition in Ge'ez, when used by Ethiopians, are to be seen as non credible and ignorant but these same documents can be deemed credible only when a European cites them. So
these students excelled in the indoctrination and many became doctors in
"economics" and in "philosophy" and in linguistics and in sociology and in engineering and in physics etc. So, dear Zekre, it is this indoctrination that produced that destructive and mindless generation. I think Atse Hailesselassie, being a negligent shepherd, gave up the sheep to the wolves.
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Hi MW, I am not convinced at all if it's fair or justified to dump all blame on Haileselassie. It's just a matter of fact that any long declining power like Ethiopia would have to contend with the whims of the contemporary super powers such as GB; Haileselassie simply cannot demand to be the exception since no super power can be expected to line up its power in the service of charity. Empty pride simply won't cut it. So, Haileselassie tried to do the one thing that was in his power to restore a semblance of dignity to his nation by sending her children to the best schools he can hardly afford! I just don't see why it was his fault those students resorted to turn against their own people! The students were supposed to transform the backward nation into a modern one, step by step; not drag it through a bloody, aimless revolution that slowly degenerated into primitive tribalism! I have always blamed Haileselassie for hanging onto power, an old helpless man, for a little too long, thus plunging the nation into chaos! But no, I won't blame him for the madness of these students!

You are right every one his merits and demerits and is with the Emperor. But unlucky he is criticized by the very people who were educated under his belly

Selam Addis Alem,
There is no dignity in "western education". There is only disgrace. To explain what indoctrination is and what it does, I shall tell you about a conversation I had with a couple of friends few weeks ago. We were discussing European colonialism and stuff. One of them said: "if someone advances to colonize and conquers your territory, you can fight and recover both the territory and your freedom. However, if your enemy conquers your brother's mind, you can't fight and free yourself from it". He cited the Arabs as an example. He said: "it was better the Arabs came and settled, then we would fight to drive them away. But the Arab made our brothers and sisters Muslims. Now the Arab does not have to leave Arabia to colonize us. He has our brethren as agents to do his bidding. What do you do when your brother becomes a Muslim and demands to cater to the Arab desires in your midst? It is not something you can fight, not something you can be free from, it is just an endless nightmare". The guy who said this did not go to college and he is from rural Ethiopia and he taught me better than any professor I had known in school.
Seeing its dramatic effects, the European copied the art of
mind conquest from the Arab but he improved it and made it a little bit more subtle and complex. The European went about mind conquest in multiple avenues. One such avenue is the liberal so called "education" which in fact is indoctrination. Western "education" doesn't teach you beneficial wisdom, but exercises deception upon your mind and provides a false show to the fancy of your thought. It is an extended practice of cheating the senses. In practical effect, it makes you ambivalent toward things that matter and passionate about things that don't. We can take a simple example. Really, the most pressing problem of greater than ninety percent of Ethiopians today is the absence of food on their table or on their lap for the daily nourishment. And you have greater than ninety percent of the western educated elite railing for "democracy." See there? People are dying of starvation and the elite's demand is some illusion called democracy from their morbid imagination. There is no correlation between absence of this illusory "democracy" and the absence of food, but even if there was, why would you demand for something which is vague and unknown quantity when you can directly demand for the real deal? In fact going directly for the things that matter will result speedy changes and improvements, but by design the elite was trained to be delusional. Let me put it in one sentence. The reason greater than ninety percent of the Ethiopians don't have food to eat is directly caused by western indoctrination.
The other avenue the European uses is, like the Arab did,
bamboozling using Protestantism. These mind conquests using "religion" is like afflicting society with generational disease. Unlike Islam, which comes with a raised sword in the open, Protestantism walks right into a Tewahdo Church and removes the faithful from inside and makes them the enemy of the Church and Ethiopia instantly. It separates sister from sister, brother from brother, children from parents, husband from wife, society from society. It is a social disease - a social leprosy. Leprosy, like Protestantism, separates your fingers, your limbs etc from your body while you watch - right under your nose. The first day an Ethiopian becomes a protestant, his or her first words are: "we should give away the Ark of the Covenant to the Jews".
All that we discussed above was conceded by Atse Hailesselassie. He was great but he was also fallible. He could resist like the Japanese did, but he didn't. The Japanese, confronted with western "education", took what they deemed good and rejected what they thought was bad.
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Dearest MM, 
But first, I would like to extend, once again, my deepest admiration to Asmarino for its tenacity in the defense of unrestricted flow of ideas. Nobody can do this better than Asmarino. If the gang in Asmara is a brute oppressive force beyond accountability; Asmarino is quietly pushing back forcefully by offering its powerful, unapologetic antidote - the most serious and free arena for open discussions. God bless Asmarino!
Now, dearest MW, I am afraid you would never convince me to see the so called "Western education" as something to be dreaded and avoided at all cost. I just don't buy into the notion that science is the sole-personal property of the West. Its mastery of science at this very moment in history might give the appearance that the West discovered it for the first time; while in fact, it only borrowed it from other prior civilizations and improved upon it. But most importantly, nobody can ever afford relegating the general sphere of science to the West alone. That is not how Japan did it. The Japanese copied furiously, until they made science their own. The South Korean's and Chinese won't be where they are today had they banished science as a Western pest. But, and this is a huge but, I agree with you completely with what you said about how Haileselassie let his guard down to the spread of Protestantism in Ethiopia; most costly, in Wollega, where the brightest of Oromos hail from; and with the adoption of this foreign religion, they were rendered less inclined to embrace their own Habesha identity. For God's sake, they just discarded our precious Habesha alphabets as a tool of cultural domination, and embraced a foreign alphabet! So, yes, Haileselassie failed miserably on this issue. I have always bitterly lamented the failure of Haileselassie to open Ethiopian Tewahdo churches all over Wollega and staff each one of them with native Oromos. Alas! He left and abandoned all these brilliant virgin Ethiopian minds to fall for this foreign religion! Not that I am suggesting that this foreign religion is breeding terrorism like the Saudis; only that there is no doubt in my mind Ethiopia would have been much better-off had Haileselassie won the hearts and minds of these brilliant Ethiopians before the foreigners arrived with their destructive indoctrination agenda. So, dear MW, if what you mean is the indoctrination of religion, and not science; then yes, Haileselassie failed the Habesha nation miserably!
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Selam Addis Alem,
Gimme the meat. I think the discussion must base itself on
data, so give me data - even indirect data will do.
To be fair to you, besides you also there are many Habeshas
here, many with PhDs and I think they should engage as you do. I will try to provide data for every claim I make but I expect others to say: "no that is wrong, your data can be falsified by the fact of such and such data etc." For the colossal problems we have as Ethiopians (pardon me, Midre Bahri is forever Ethiopian for me although current data contradicts me for the time being) to read and keep quite is a bit selfish.
So I'm saying western "education" is not really education but rather indoctrination. In fact it is the opposite of education. It's proper name should be western delusion. I have already provided one data. More than ninety percent of the western educated Ethiopians who engage in the so called "politics" devote their time demanding "democracy" and they say they do that for the "wellbeing of the Ethiopian people." A recent economic study from Addis indicated that ninety percent of people in Addis don't have enough food to eat. Nation wide, close to fifty percent of the people don't have enough food to eat ( In fact, it was shown in the data that Ethiopia produces food that is sufficient to all its citizens. In fact the amount food it produces can also feed Somalia, Djibouti, Midre Bahri and the Sudan too. The food is produced but the people don't have it. The people need food but the elite want to give them an illusion called democracy. It is easy to see that the elite are possessed by some kind of disease - intellectual disease, which I say is a result of being indoctrinated by the western delusion. I know you don't see it and many here don't see it either because we are all inflicted
by the same disease. Everyone has gone bonkers by the indoctrination.
Let me be a little more analytical on this. Last week the Roman Catholic Pope addressed the United States Joint Congress. In a very polite and subtle language he indicted Congress in his speech. Despite his words being one of rebuke, Congress received his speech with multiple standing
ovations. He relayed his indictment not directly but by implying. Here I summarize his indictment and they have twelve points. These are his accusations against those in the audience, in other words, against the US:
1- Your policies make global slavery
2- Your politics is a slave to your economics and finance
3- You are hating immigrants forgetting that you too are immigrants
4- You seek security while denying security to others
5- You love life while denying it to others
6- Life is sacred but you have legislated death penalty
7- You did not defend life at every stage (in the womb)
8- You are rearing conflicts around the world
9- You sell weapons to those who kill, which means you partook in the killings
10- Your country was built on the family, now you have
demolished its foundation by legislating sodomite marriage
11- You have disoriented the young and they are trapped in
bloody violence yet you consider it not to be your problem
12- You have instituted a culture to discourage the young
from starting a family
A radio journalist (some call him conspiracy theorist) named
Alex Jones responded to the popes message as being communistic or some kind of income redistribution scheme. He said: "if the pope's message were to be heeded, a billion third world people will die tomorrow." So he accused the
pope of intent to kill one billion people. He argued that people in third world countries are able to live simply because rich western nations are giving them charities so these people can survive. So, what he is saying is that the exploiting of third world resources by the west is a necessary condition for the survival of third world people. To be fair to him, this is actually a standard western view.
Now back to you. Alex Jones is not wrong because third world people like Ethiopians depend on their distant exploiters for their survival. Why? You can see the power of the distant exploiters by going to Ethiopia with a few bucks. For one thousand dollars you can buy the entire treasure of a village. The simple math is that if the government in Ethiopia wants to buy a passenger airplane, it has to starve at least one million people for about three months to generate the dollar equivalent of the price of a Boeing 737. That is equal to a day's meal of the entire Ethiopian people. Western nations on the other hand prosper by what they extract from third world people. In other words, countries like Ethiopia pay for the luxury of the West.
Before there was any western delusion (western "education") in Ethiopia, Ethiopians produced what is good and enough for them from within. For example even massive structures like the Fassiledes building in Gondar, the MoTa bridge by Gojjam, the massive Lalibela structures with the fascinating doors, hinges, stair cases, upper floor rooms, drainage ditches, reservoirs, the meticulously built Axum structures, the stair cases, the corpse preserving capsules etc were built
out of materials produced from within Ethiopia. The techniques of building were homegrown, so they are mastered. Nothing was imported. On the other hand today, Ethiopians can not build even a small residential structure without importing stuff from overseas. The reinforcement bars used in concrete structures are imported. The Portland
cement is imported. The roof materials are imported. the windows and doors and decorative materials are imported. Even if the government builds cement plants to produce cement for concrete structures, the equipment and spare part needed for the production of cement are imported. So the first thing the western delusion did to the Ethiopian mind was make it impotent as to make it incapable of creating the tools for self-sufficiency. The Ethiopian mind is trained and certified as far as being useful to western needs. Then the delusion does its most devastating bite on trade - the so called international trade. Since those who engage in the trade transactions are western trained, they take the language of trade as it is defined by the west no questions asked. There is no such thing as "fair trade" for Ethiopia in western quarters. Countries like Ethiopia are targeted for natural resource exploitation but they are not entitled to any fair value reciprocity. For plundering Ethiopia's resources the west awards Ethiopia with what it calls "charity" (Frankel 2010). In other words, nations like Ethiopia are designed for poverty in the book of western education and the purpose of their poverty is to enrich the west. How does the west achieve this? The west has devised many venues to achieve this. One is indoctrination and duplicating elites - the more elite Ethiopia produces the more starved it gets. The other venue is corruption, by installing puppet regimes it can maneuver.
So this mental disease is everywhere now. The disease gedli-Asmarinos have is a version of that disease too. The Ethiopiawinet of the Asmarino is made by God. The non-Ethiopiawinet of the Asmarino is made by Europe. Therefore, the Asmarino that goes around saying: "I am Eritrean" carries in him a worship of the ferenji though outwardly he is not aware of it.
Before I conclude, I should mention that when reading Abraham Ghebreghiorgis' story what I saw was a declining Abraham lifted up from near ruin by a woman - his wife. I can see that he was by nature a good person from a peasant country and he had his parents in his heart when he thought of them by sending money out of his 100 birr stipend when he was in Addis Ababa. As he got more and more indoctrinated overseas he lost his natural warmth and compassion and he abandoned his parents. From what I can tell from the story, if he had not met his wife in 1984, his life would have been a total waste. She came and turned him around. She showed him affection, gave him family, gave him new value to cherish life - his beautiful children. She turned his heart back to his parents and she made him a full-fledged man - an Habesha man. To me, that story narrated above is about her - a story of a great Habesha woman. She is the one who deserves admiration.
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Dearest MW,
Maybe you are right we need PhDs to sort all this out. No, I am kidding; I think I know what is really bothering you with this Western education stuff. You are kind of all over the place to address each of your concerns one by one, but what you are really afraid of I believe is Western democracy. I have myself reservations about rushing to impose a Western style democracy in Habesha lands, but not for the same reason as you do. I do believe that there is no better way to impose accountability on governments than representative democracy. There is no better way to preserve and protect the dignity and human rights of the individual than through democratic institutions that are anchored in the rule of law; all sanctioned by a representative democracy. Even markets function better, not perfectly, in democratic societies. There is no better way to unleash the full creative potential of the individual than to allow him to exercise his/her full right to life, thought, and speech. But I also know that, in today's hyper competitive world, where most of the prosperous and powerful nations tend to be democracies, poor nations like ours are often pressured to "adopt democracy" - while in reality what these rich countries mean is open your markets and resources for us to plunder! I don't want our Habesha lands to fall for this. Once you hand economic control over to foreigners, like it is the case in most African countries, then your so called democracy is tainted, and would never be free enough to really serve your own people. So, you see MW, I have myself reservations over the timing of the implementation of representative democracy in our Habesha lands. But unlike you, I am not really afraid of representative democracy. Yes, MW, you might as well run with the banner of BOKO HARAM! No, I am not saying you would sanction the barbaric actions of those deranged Muslim Nigerians; but in all honesty, yes, I do think that you are both motivated by the same fear! Fear of the "sodomite marriage"! Fear of abortion! Fear of the death penalty! You know, all the things the Pope said to Congress! You see, this is why you are confusing me. You lead me to think that we were discussing the merits or demerits of Western education, but you are actually worried about Western democracy, and its excesses. I don't think these excesses of democracy are anything to be lauded. Some of these excesses disturb me to my core. For example, I worry about how some of these new couples ecommercialize the sacred act of human procreation; dismissing the delicate and complex psychological needs of children, and treating them almost as if they were pets! I don't like the fact that some gay couples want to have their cake and eat it too; dumping all the social and psychological costs on the poor heads of their children! But, alas! I still DO NOT think these excesses of democracy are bad enough to join BOKO HARAM!
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Selam Addis Alem,
I know you are an intelligent person, you can't miss my points that horribly. You must have written that in jest, to make fun being simplistic.
If You and I lived in the same compound and I told you that you have the right to breathe, did I give you democracy? My friend, when someone declares to you that you have the right to do this and to do that, remember that he just owned you. I'm compacting ideas hoping to be understood and it frustrates me losing an audience. Who else can I tell these stories to if I fail to relay it to a caliber such as yours? the reason I brought the pope and Alex is to tell you that the problem is real, verified in two diverse corners. under a diversionary delusion named "democracy," most Ethiopians are being starved. Resources are finite. By the time we wake up we will probably find our resources completely drained and along side the barren house, we will probably find ourselves enveloped in an environmental horror too. Imagine a stranger went into a family home and told them that there are killer insects in their basement and told them that life is to prevent these insects from coming out of the basement. So he refocused the purpose of their lives to fighting the insects. So they started spraying insecticides and he started living there takes their food and clothing etc. That he is taking their meals and clothing is no object because they have other priority now: the insects. By the time they found out that there were no insects, all the food they had and the clothing and the money gone. That is what the so called democracy is. It is an illusion, a diversion. It doesn't exist. I don't know why you are discussing its applicability in Ethiopia when my discussion is way beyond that? What I am telling you is that if the elite, who are made delusional by reason of indoctrination, start addressing the real problems like lack of food, lack of shelter etc, then you can be sure that can be addressed for sure because these things are measurable and are immediately verifiable. But to demand democracy and get people killed for it is nonsense. Why would you get people killed for an illusion? The Derg said it was a democracy. The current rulers say they are a democracy and they have the West blessing their claim. Those who oppose the current rulers say they oppose the government because they want to furnish democracy. The reason everybody, including diametric opposites, claim to be it is because it is an illusion.
I am not sure if you understood what I meant by the problem of trade. There is trade imbalance, in fact trade robbery. The economists, the finance people etc that we have in Ethiopia are simply people who speak the language of the West. All you hear them say is "hard currency, hard currency." They will sell the whole nation for "hard currency" and this hard currency is just paper someone else prints on a printer somewhere to give it the fools in Ethiopia to collect all the produce, the coffee, the gold the hide and skin, the grain etc. It is just as simple as me printing a couple of papers on an inkjet printer and coming to you to ask you to give me all your furniture in exchange for the papers. If you are an economist, tell me if that is not the case. If you are not, go research it and that is what is happening.
I think you misunderstood me. Perhaps western "education" has benefited me personally more than most Ethiopians. The best thing for me to do in person would be just to say things are fine because life is enjoyable to me the way it is. If I were an atheist I wouldn't even care for the poor, I would simply say, they are weak and I would marvel at the strong who robbed them and would be with the strong, because there is no standard morality I would name to feel one way or another. Then morality would be to do what is expedient and profitable to me in person. In the case of atheism the mighty make the rules and the weak will have to live with them. But I believe in God and God's ways are to defend the poor. That is the singular reason why I am discussing these things here.
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Dearest MW,
I want to assure you from the onset that I was not at all trying to make fun of your profoundly beautiful religious convictions. I was intending no offense whatsoever; only frankness, and I reserve this only to people I have a great deal of respect for. I had a feeling that your strong religious convictions, and the optimism that comes with it, is making you to nonchalantly dismiss the tremendous potential for utter cruelty and human rights violations of non-democratic regimes, including ours. You know how they say absolute power corrupts absolutely. The fact of the matter is, we don't live in heaven; we live in the real practical world; but I completely appreciate that you are entitled, even justified, to project your positive attitude on human nature to our brute world. I have always deeply admired good and decent spiritual individuals who do not hesitate to engage in acts of extraordinary selflessness, often assuming significant risk to their person; but still, while applauding their convictions and courage to do good, I also believe that the practical ways of the world doesn't always heed to their expansive humanity and sacrifices. For example, I may not agree with the actions of this Kentucky Clerk who refused to issue Same-sex marriages, but I am also deeply moved by the strength of her convictions to stand for what she assumes to be a good service to humanity. I mean, at some point this woman was ignoring the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States! It's not lost on me that it was exactly extraordinary individuals like her who fought bravely the savagery of slavery in this country against a frightening array of odds. However, I also know that decent individuals like this woman, or you for that matter, can dare hope to change the brute ways of the world all you want, but your generosity of heart is not often adequate to make the required positive impact. I still believe that the effective antidote for brute undemocratic regimes remains to be the accountability that can only be achieved with representative democracy. As moving and humbling individual acts of generosity remains to be, it's never enough to alter the brute currents of an unforgivingly practical world. If we are to live in a decent world where our individual rights are protected, then I strongly feel that we are better off to aim and shoot for the possible; and not simply for the ideal, which is inaccessible outside of the realm of our dreams and hopes. The practical world, in my opinion, responds better to democracy than our individual acts of decency to make it a decent place to live.
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Sorry for the typo and stuff, I had an inconvenient device
Stunning and sensational.
I just love Zekre really. I was myself anguishing over the exact same questions you raised. An Omega golden watch and a stipend big enough to be a teacher's salary from such a dirt poor nation and .... a stab in the back! I don't know if Kebessa is lacking the simple decency or the basic intellect to appreciate the moral paradox that is packed full in this sheer betrayal. He actually feels no shame whatsoever to declare that it was only appropriate that the education they got from Ethiopia helped them to "recognize the wishes and heartbeats of their people resulting in answering the call of duty." He talks as if the peasant masses, and not these students, ignited the ghedli madness! How could a person who talks like this not be a Sudanese nomad? And, I swear I don't mean this as an insult; just thinking out loud. Thank God there are decent and courageous Habeshas like Zekre who won't shrink from tackling the mind boggling state of Habesha affairs.
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Dear Zekre Lebona,
If history is to be fair to Emperor Hailesellasie, it will be his radical and abrupt departure from his predecessors who had been in the gutters of morbid backwardness where he clearly understood the transcendental value of modernism and invested heavily in higher learning education among other things. Sure enough, partly to appease particularly Eritreans who hailed from the highlands, they reaped benefits from the perks where it is safe to say that Abraham was a quintessence to that effect. However, the Emperor's genuine effort to modernize the nation came with a detrimental price when he suffocated the political space by abrogating the Federation. The historical watershed if you will pushed a generation to extreme measures where the much touted investment in education particularly on the highlanders became a thorn on the Emperor's legacy.

What kind of reasoning is this? You can't just laud the investment in education as "much touted" and then quickly dismiss it as a "thorn on the Emperor's legacy" in the same sentence. Some of you here make it sound as if the students were sent to do hard labor in some godforsaken labor camps; and not to places of higher learning, out of which they were supposed to come out and lift the Habesha nation out of its backwardness as it hoped, not plunge it into primitive tribalism!

Selam ZL,
"What I don't understand is this: how did the educational system in Ethiopia produce such kind of people like Abraham and the rest of his generation, who easily get smitten with foreign ideologies, but had little understanding of the political and social landscape of their country, and not least the obligation to the family."
Here is my question: did the educated like Abraham and so many others voluntarily join the fray because they got smitten by "foreign" ideology, or did education help them recognize the wishes and heartbeats of their people resulting in answering the call of duty? You read Abraham's story. Did you get any impression him holding unusual or some sort of Arab or foreign views? To suggest that they were after foreign ideology is to suggest they were out of touch with the general public which opposed them, which opposed Ghedli and that's why independence never materialized. 
To put it differently, If we assume HS education system indoctrinated the educated in favor of the "alien" or "foreign" idea of independence, who or what will be responsible for the fact that the vast Eritrean masses from all walks of life (the majority being uneducated) were just for that - independence?