Saturday, 22 April 2017

Remarks on the archaeology of the Tigre area

Remarks on the archaeology of the Tigre area by Andrea Manzo

ملاحظات على آثار منطقة التقرى

A paper presented at the “History and language of the Tigre-speaking peoples. Proceedings of the International Workshop, Naples, February 7 – 8, 2008 «Studi Africanistici. Serie Etiopica» 8, Napoli: Università di Napoli “L'Orientale”, edited by Prof. Gianfrancesco Lusini

ورقة بحثية قدمت في "تاريخ ولغة الشعوب الناطقة بالتقرى. وقائع ورشة العمل الدولية، نابولي، 7 - 8 فبراير 2008

Thanks to Prof. Gianfrancesco Lusini for sharing

Friday, 21 April 2017

The agreements between Eritrea and Ethiopia that ended up in war

The main agreement between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the then Transitional Government of Ethiopia, 20  July 1993

The agreement between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the then Transitional Government of Ethiopia, 23 September 1993

The Joint Communique of 1993

The Joint Communique of 1994


Thanks to Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll for sharing

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The time Eritrea was divided into six regions 1995

Eritrea 22 years ago, when the country was administratively divided into six regions,

That date, the following were appointed as Administrators of the Regions, Ibrahim Toteel (N. Red Sea), Alamin Sheikh Saleh (Anseba), Mustafa Nur Hussein (Gash-Barca), Mesfin Hagos (Southern Region). That period Dr. Tesfay Germatzion was a Minister of Agriculture, and Adhanom Geberemariam was the Administrator of Seraye (Before the designation of the new regions).

Since 1991, The actors of the play keep changing, but so far, the master is one. Three of the Region Administrators then are in Prison, Mesfin Hagos is in the diaspora

Thanks to Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll for the collection

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A 1984 publication by Marxist-Leninist (ML) Core in the TPLF

When the TPLF was TOO RED
A 1984 publication by Marxist-Leninist (ML) Core in the TPLF
Some highlights:
Pre-TPLF Ethiopia: The civilization of Axum which thrived in what is now Tigray and some outlying areas was one of the most slave societies of the time and the fall of Axum around 10th century AD was also the fall of slavery as a social system; Yohannes IV was regarded as a feudal lord; Ethiopia emerged as a full-fledged empire at the end of the 19th century.
ML & its relations with other Ethiopian forces: The TPLF had the ML since its inception and it passed a resolution in the TPLF First Congress in 1979, to make it legal for the vanguard elements and communist cadres (both in the army and mass organizations) to organize openly at a higher level and make necessary preparations for that. It stated that the Proletariat is the leader of the revolution and that the peasants were its core. At the beginning of 1980 the writings of Enver Hoxha’s , the Chair of the Albanian Communist party that was anti-Maoist and anti-Soviet Socialism, found its way to the TPLF and the ML since adopted his line; the ML was against the Tigray Liberation Front (TLF), which it accused as narrow Tigrinyan nationalist, it was also against the EPRP (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party), All Ethiopia Socialist Movement (Meison), and Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU). It rooted them out of Tigray one after the other and became the sole power in there.
Regarding the Eritrean Peoples’ struggle: It considered it a colonial question and just, but it stated that there is a need for a genuine proletarian leadership, if the Eritrean people struggle was to result not only in national liberation, but in social emancipation, as well.

It also supported the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Imperialism

Monday, 10 April 2017

The opinion of the Institute of Ethiopian Nationalities on the Jeberti 1987

The opinion of the Institute for the study of Ethiopian Nationalities on the Jeberti 1987

When the Jeberti, in Eritrea requested that they be recognized as a separate nationality, The ruling party then, The Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) , did not arrest them or kill them, but sent a team of experts from the  Institute for the study of Ethiopian Nationalities to study their case. This is the opinion of the team: The opinion was translated from Amharic to English by Berhane Mekonen, a senior lecturer, Mekelle University

Thanks to Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll for sharing the document


In a separate case, when the Assaworta in Eritrea requested they be recognized in 1986, a separate nationality, the Institute sent a team to study their case. The members of the team were: Yusuf Yassin, Dr. Yayehyirad Kitaw, Dr. Asmelash Beyene and Abiye Fitawork, In both cases, the opinion of the teams was not in favour of the requests.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Hand-written Manifesto of the TPLF, Feb. 1976

A copy of the original, hand-written English version, of the Tigray Peoples' Liberation Front's (TPLF) Manifesto  of February 1976

Thanks to Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll for sharing the document

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Human Rights issues in Eritrea in 1955

Human Rights issues in Eritrea in 1955 as raised in an article in the Modern Law Review, Issue 5, pp. 484 -486

The idea of a citizen having any rights against the authorities being an startling innovation, in Eritrea resort to the Supreme Court in defence of a constitutional right has been rare, but five cases has arisen in the first two and a half years of self governance, that article discusses those cases....

Thanks to Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll for sharing

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Law of “ADGHENATECHLEBA” , the law of the people of AKele Guzai Division

The Law of “ADGHENATECHLEBA” , the law of the people of Acchele Guzai Division. The 29 District Chiefs and 83 persons experts in law who were selected by the villagers of the various districts of Acchele Guzai Division held several meetings which lasted one and half year in Segeneiti, Adi Caieh and Senafe and succeeded in drawing up this Code which comes into force with effect from 28th Tahsas 1937 (7th January, 1944).

It can be downloaded here:

Thanks to Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll for sharing

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Saturday, 25 March 2017

When the Axumites invaded and occupied Yemen

When the Abyssinians came to the rescue of the Christians in Yemen in the 6th century:

The beginning of the war between Abyssinia and Yemen was when king Yusuf “Zi Newas” (515 – 525 AD) of Yemen converted to Judaism and brutally killed the Christians of Nejran who did not convert to Judaism. Some reports indicate about 20, 000 Christians were killed. One of the Christians, called “Dos Bin Thaalaban”  escaped and contacted the king in Abyssinia and showed him part of a burned Bible. The king said he was ready to help them but did not have ships to transport his army to Yemen. The king contacted the Roman Emperor then, Yustinus (518 – 527 AD) who sent the ships. The Greek writer Cosmos, author of the ‘Christian Comography’ has written an eyewitness account of the preparation of the Axumite army in Adulis. There are different accounts of the number of the Abyssinan army ranging between 4, 000 to 70, 000.  Abyssinian accounts name the king of Axum then, as King Kaleb. The Abyssinian army was led by Abraha or Arbat. Abraha built a church in Sanaa and forced the Yemenis to go pilgrimage the church instead of going to Mecca. The Arabs refer to the year Abraha tried to invade Mecca in 570 AD  (It was also the year the Prophet Mohamed was born), as the ‘year of the elephant’.The incident is also referred to in the Koran. Abraha ruled Yemen for 23 years, up to 544 AD. His son ‘Yexum’ ruled Yemen for 19 years, There were many revolts in Yemen against Abraha rule in Yemen. A detailed account with many Arab and western references is given in the source below.

Source: Gamaladdin A-Shami and his son Dr. Hashim A-Shami. (1997). AL-Manhal Fi Tarikh Wa Akhbar AL Afar (Al-Danakil), (The source on History and Narrative of the Afar (Al-Danakil. Cairo, Kamil Graphics., L:S:B:N. 977/19/4208/5, in 740 pages
The account is detailed in Pages: 124 – 132

The book was translated to Amharic, with additions to the Arabic version in 2007 with the title (ዓፋር (ደንከል) ታሪክና መረጃ አርክ ምንጭ).

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Nile tributaries of Abyssinia

The Nile tributaries of Abyssinia and the sword hunters of the Hamran Arabs by Samuel Baker, 1867

The status and role of the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the union with Ethiopia:

The status and role of the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the union with Ethiopia
Before the advent of Italian colonialism, the Church owned valuable land in the highlands, demanded and got free peasant labor in time for cultivation. During Italian rule, the Church land was confiscated and converted to Italian crown land. Some land was leased to expectant peasant villages and other land was given to Italian settlers. The Church as an economic power was destroyed.

In the Italian desire to weaken the ideological and administrative unity of the Coptic Church, the Italians located its central office in Akle Guzai and demanded it severe its institutional ties to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Abuna Querlos refused to comply. As a result the Italians expelled him from his seat and replaced him with a little known priest from Akle Guzai, who became known as Abuna Markos. Having located the Central office in a region with such heterogeneous social and ideological formation (Moslems made up almost one third of the population, it was the least populated of kebessa regions and the largest number of defectors from the Coptic Church were there, where the new converts to Catholicism numbered at least one seventh of the Coptic population), the Italians succeeded in weakening the Abuna Markos’s Office to the point where its survival depended on the Italians. When the Italians occupied Ethiopia in 1935, they further weakened the unity of the Church by locating the Tigre section to be administered by Abuna Markos. So when Haile Sellasie returned to his throne in 1941, the Abuna was in a difficult position.

Yet, the Church exerted super structural influence, i.e. the ideology of the masses still remained that of Coptic Christianity. Immediately after the Italian defeat, it made every effort to reverse history. In 1947, it was joined by the Society for the union of Eritrea with Ethiopia (SUEE) which later became the Unionist Party. It cultivated its allies from the Kebessa, including the Massawa nobility and the chiefs of Muslim lowlands. The party’s founding fathers and active members had already secured, by the early forties important high offices in the Addis-based Ethiopian Government, namely Vice-Chancellor of Addis; Director of Ethiopian Post and Telegraph; and his Majesty’s Minister of Pen. The main aim of the party was to cultivate mass support for union with Ethiopia. In return the Ethiopia was to restore to the Church and chiefs their lost economic and political power, and through intermarriage, etc., make them part of the Shoan-Amhara feudal ruling class. The agent for this conspiracy was the Eritrean Coptic Church. It began intimidating the highland peasant s, threatening to excommunicate, refusing holy services of baptism and burial if the Church adherents did not support union with Ethiopia. But the more the conspiracy took shape the more it became exposed, the heads of the Church increasingly relied on anti-Muslim paranoia and hysteria to gain support for a union with Ethiopia. With this, fragile and ‘unholy’ alliance created between the chiefs and heads of the unionist Party collapsed. And the Church temporarily succeeded in forming anti-Muslim Christian solidarity for the unionist cause. With the partial success of the Coptic cause, a counter party articulated the interest of the lowlands, the Muslim League was already formed in 1946.

Quoting Trevaskis, “ by 1942 every priest became a propagandist in the Ethiopian cause, every village church had become a center of Ethiopian nationalism, and popular religious feast days such as “Maskal” had become occasions for open displays of Ethiopian patriotism. The cathedral, monasteries, and village churches would be festooned with Ethiopian flags and sermons would be delivered in unequivocal political language”.

It is worth to mention that there were a minority of Christian elites at that time, headed by Ras Tesemma Asberom who was against the Church role in trying to unite Eritrea with Ethiopia, at any cost, even using extreme forms of violence.
Source: Jordan Gebre-Medhin , Peasants and nationalism

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Hgi Enda Fegrai

Enda Fegrai The law takes its name from the village where it was created. Elements of two districts (Egghelà Hatzin and Tedrer) were involved at a very ancient and unrecorded time. This law was revised in Adi Goddo in 1905, and it is also followed in the Seraye district of Temezza.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Trump archive

The Trump Archive collects TV news shows containing debates, speeches, rallies, and other broadcasts related to President Donald Trump. This evolving non-commercial, searchable collection is designed to preserve the historical record for posterity.

The project is a work in progress, with improvements planned for expanding the collection and making searching more efficient.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Money and Banking in Eritrea from the Axumite Kingdom to the Present

Historical Development of Money and Banking in Eritrea from the Axumite Kingdom to the Present, a 2006 article by Ravinder Rena

The development of money is an abstract of the history of civilization. Financial institutions encourage saving habit among the people by receiving deposits from the public in various forms. The Axumite kings were the first to mint coins in the African Continent. The aim of this paper is to explore the lessons learned from the different historical developments in the country and the region. The paper discusses the origin of banking system in Eritrea. It highlights the historical evolution and growth of money and banking in Eritrea during the Axumite, Italian, and the British, Ethiopian periods. It also provides the chronological development of money and banking from historical times to the post-independent Eritrea. It also deals with the existing banking institutions in the country. The paper makes an extensive use of related literature in enlightening the money and banking system in Eritrea during the historical period. It ends with summary and concluding remarks.

Friday, 24 February 2017

A 1974 memoirs of a 15 year old school boy on his experience with the ELF health services

 مذكرات لطالب ارتري عندما كان عمره  ١٥ عاما  عن تجربته في ١٩٧٤ مع وحدة للخدمات الصحية التابعة لجبهة التحرير الأرترية  في العيادة المركزية في دبر سالا والمناطق المحررة الأخري التي زارها 

Revisiting a 1974 memoirs of a 15 year old school boy on his experience with the ELF health services in Debir Sala and other liberated areas, in Arabic

Mohamed Issa, started his journey in Kassala with an ELF Helath Sevices Unit carrying medical supplies and medical equipment to the field. His reflections are given on a background of vivid description of the  fascination with the beauty of the natural scenery. He narrates, among other things. on life of the freedom fighters and patients at the military hospital at Debir (mountain) Sala, attempts to find another appropriate place, his interactions with a cobra, on fetching water to the mountain, on accompanying a unit that went to the Ethiopian occupied Keru. The purpose was to enable a delegation from the Tigrian Liberation Front that was visting the ELF at that time to meet their Tigrian clandestine colleague who was the Director of the elementary school there. on his chats with a fighter who participated in derailing the train at Ashedira, on the traditional healer who stopped the continous nose bleeding from a freedom fighter, his talk with a Sudanese fighter from Al Nihoud in Sudan who joined the ELF: He was later advised to continue his studies and sent back to Kassala. Mohamed Issa currently lives in Canada and plans to expand the memoirs and also translate them to English.

It can be downloaded from the link below:


This was first published, in series, in his blog,

بدأ محمد عيسى رحلته في كسلا مع الوحدة الصحية لجبهة التحرير الإرترية التي كانت تنقل امدادات ومعدات طبية الي دبر سالا. مذكراته ليست مجرد سرداً للاحاداث بل وصفاً للمناظر الطبيعية الخلابة للمناطق التي زارها تأملاته مبنيه على خلفية وصفا حيا من الانبهار بجمال المناظر الطبيعية. من بين أمور أخرى، يسرد عن حياة المناضلين والمرضى في المستشفى العسكري في دبر(جبل) سالا، محاولة إيجاد مكان آخر مناسب، مواجهتهي مع أفعى الكوبرا، عن جلب الماء إلى الجبل، عن مرافقته للوحدة التي ذهبت الي كيرو والتي كانت محتلة من قبل القوات الإثيوبية لكي يتمكن وفد من جبهة تحرير تقراي والذي كان في زيارة لجبهة التحرير، من مقابلة عضو سري لهم كان مدير المدرسة الابتدائية هناك، عن الأحاديث التي أجراها مع مقاتل  شارك في تعطيل واخراج  قطار عن مساره في أشىديرا ، عن الحجاب  الذي اوقف النزيف الحاد والمستمر من الانف لمناضل، حديثه مع مقاتل سوداني من آلنهود الذي انضمم إلى جبهة التحرير: حيث تم أبلاغه في وقت لاحق بمتابعة دراسته وتم اعادته الى كسلا. يعيش محمد عيسى حاليا في كندا، ولديه خطط لتوسيع مذكراته، وترجمتها إلى الإنجليزية- لقد نشرت مذكراته لأول مرة عبر اجزاء  في مدونته

: يمكن تحميل المذ كرة عبر الرابط ادناه

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Patriots or Bandits? Britain's Strategy for Policing Eritrea 1941-1952

Patriots or Bandits? Britain's Strategy for Policing Eritrea 1941-1952, a 2000 article Nene Mburu

This article analyses counter-banditry policies during the British military administration of Eritrea from 1941 to 1952. The study dismisses the claim that post-Second World War Eritrea was too fragmented along ethnic and religious lines to be allowed to gain political independence. Its finding is that such claims were calculated to influence the political future of the territory through an international compromise deal that allowed Ethiopia to administer, and later to colonize Eritrea. Britain’s counter-banditry measures failed because she did not deliver the liberation promises made to the people of Eritrea during the World War, there was little investment in will and resources, and her wider imperialistic designs in the Horn of Africa came on the way. The article concludes that, whatever the ethnic or religious identity of Shifta bandits, the causes, course, and resolution of banditry could not be isolated from the uncertainty and complexity of determining Eritrea’s sovereignty. Hence the political protest that was treated as banditry during the British Military Administration of Eritrea from 1941 to 1952 crystallized into four decades of formidable liberation struggle against Ethiopia’s administration.

Dr. Habte one of the great leaders of the Eritrean Revolution

Dr. Habte one of the great leaders of the Eritrean Revolution
He was from the beginning, opposed to Isayas’s ‘Nehnan Elamanan’ that was meant to mobilize Christian highlanders against the ELF and who remained committed to the ELF and to National Democratic Liberation of Eritrea. He did not also heed to the several advices of Woldeab Woldemariam, of the necessity of establishing a Christian organization that could counteract, the ELF which he considered an Islamic organization.

A short biographical note
Dr. Habte (16 July 1943 – 13 January 2007)
  • Born in Asmara, where he completed his secondary education there
  • Joined the Asmara Teachers Training Institute, where he worked as a teacher for a short while
  • He moved to Harer afterwards where he studied Veterinary Medicine at Alemaya
  • College of Agriculture
  • Travelled to Poland where he received  the Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD) degree from Warsaw University in Poland
  • Moved to Germany and completed his PhD studies at Freie Universität Berlin Magna Cum Laude with Distinction in 1973 
He was very active in the Eritrean struggle for independence at an early age. He once told us that his family were in support of Eritrea’s independence and thus were threatened by the Unionists and they used to sleep at the home of a relative police officer.
  • He was a member of the clandestine cells of the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM)
  • He was one of the founders of the General Union of Eritrean Students (GUES) in Europe and its first Chairman. GUES was affiliated to the ELF
  • While in Europe, he was opposed to Eritreans joining the Ethiopian Students Movement (ESM) and becoming part of it, unlike some Eritreans who not only participated in ESM, but chaired it
  • He was active in the unity efforts of GUES-ELF and GUES-PLF and participated in the Unity Conference of GUES that was held in Damascus on the 18th of December, 1968.
  • After completing his PD studies he joined the ELF and participated in the ELF 2nd national congress held in 1975
  • He was elected to the Revolutionary Council in that Congress
  • He was appointed as the Director of the ELF Cadres’ School after the Congress
  • He was later appointed as in ELF’s Foreign Relations Bureau as Head of the African and European desk
  • Together with Dr. Yusuf Berhanu, he was one of the founders of the Eritrean Red Cross and Crescent Society (ERCCS)- an organization that helped alleviate the sufferings of Eritreans displaced in the liberated areas and also helped refugees in neighboring countries.
  • He also contributed in the establishment of the Eritrean refugees School in Kassala that was funded by the UNHCR and run by the ELF
  • After the split in the ELF in 1982, he joined ELF-RC (ELF-Revolutionary Council, after a later split within the ELF-RC he remained with the faction that did not join the Eritrean Democratic Party.
  • He assumed various roles in the ELF
  • Dr. Habte was elected as the Chairman of the Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF), a post he assumed until his death

Sources: ENSF, Dr. Habte’s interview with, 2003, personal communication
Dr. Habte's interview with on the split of the ELF-RC

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A Bibliography on Christianity in Ethiopia

A Bibliography on Christianity in Ethiopia, by J, Abbink

This bibliography intends to meet the need of researchers and students of Christianity in Ethiopia and Africa to have a survey of the most important published materials on the subject in recent years. It covers various fields such as philology, religious studies, anthropology and the history of Christianity in Ethiopia and roughly covers the last forty years. The bibliography centers mainly on the tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), including references to the Eritrean Orthodox Church, which became autonomous after Eritrea’s independence in 1993, although in its origins, doctrine and general character it is basically the same as the Ethiopian Church. Also items on missionary churches and movements as well as on some diaspora communities are included. The theme of Christianity in Ethiopia is broadly conceived, so that also titles on Ethiopian philosophy and world views are included.

Alemseged Tesfai's interview with the first Commissioner of the Police of Eritrea (start of federation period), Colonel David P.P. Cracknell

A Bit of Eritrean History at Bridport, UK

Contributed Article
(Originally published in Eritrea Profile, August 11, 2002)

By Alemseged Tesfai

The train ride from London to Bridport in Dorset was a pleasure. My envious eyes feasted on the greenery of the English countryside, attempting all the time to place the scores of fictional characters I still remember from my high school readings into the hilltops and old buildings sprawled along the way. For some reason, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles stood out most vividly in the habitat where she was supposed to have met her fate.

The purpose of the visit was to meet with and talk to the first Commissioner of Police of Eritrea at the start of the Federation, Colonel David P.P. Cracknell. A friend, the British writer Michela Wrong, had arranged the visit for me and the Cracknells had been kind enough to invite me over.
As I alighted at the small station that serves the Bridport area, Jeanne Cracknell had no problem spotting me from a distance and welcoming me with open arms. This was my first visit ever to an English family, but her smile, sprightliness and manifest energy put me immediately at ease.
"David is an official at our local church. They are still at a funeral. We will join him soon," she told me leading me towards her small car. "I am going to drive you some twenty miles into Bridport. We live just outside the town. I hope you don't mind a woman driver."

"Of course, I don't," I replied and soon found out that she had been modest about her driving. As we sped through a narrow and meandering slope whose wall of hedges concealed what lay beyond every curve, I could not hide my admiration at her skill and expressed it to her.
"David and I got married at a church in Gajiret in '48," she said. I smiled, amused and a little thrilled at the idea of discussing Gejeret somewhere in Dorset.
"That would probably be the San Francesco Church. Was there a statue of St. Francis at the square in Front?"
She could not remember. There was no Anglican church for the English community in Eritrea to go to. They were thus allowed to use Italian Churches throughout the country.

Bridport is a small town on the English Channel. The narrow street we passed through was a blend of old and new buildings, very clean and quiet, perhaps conservative too, and typically English. The funeral service was not yet over, so Jeanne Cracknell ventured to show me the Channel. It was a windy morning and the sea was in an angry mood. As it heaved and subsided, a couple of fierce waves crashed into the dyke allowing splashes of water to fly high over and rain upon us. We had to run back into the car and head towards the church. That was my first glimpse ever of the English Channel that I had heard so much about.

We met Colonel Cracknell inside the church, where he and the pastor welcomed me. A stout octogenarian, he must have been of considerable physical strength in his younger days. "Welcome, Alem," he said, startling me with the ease with which he had shortened my first name. I mumbled something in reply. "You must speak louder. I can't hear very well and you can call me David. You've met Jeanne. Her name is spelt the French way."

The Cracknells live on the edges of Bridport, at a place called Walditch. Their little villa sits on top of yet another slope, thus commanding a nice view below. I was enjoying the near perfection of the back garden through the window of the living room when David Cracknell poured us some wine and we started talking.

He asked me about some of his old colleagues at the Eritrean Police Force, Alem Mammo, Seyoum Kahsai, Yigzaw Berakhi, Zeremariam Azazi, Erdachew Emeshaw, etc. I told him Alem and Yigzaw are still alive, but that many of the rest had died since. He also talked about Tedla Ogbit, one of his successors as Eritrea's Police Commissioner and how promising he had been at the early stages. Cracknell's duty had been to organize the Eritrean police force and he was unsparing in his praise of the eager young men that had staffed its rank-and-file.

I opened my handbag and gave him some old Foreign Office documents that I had had photocopied at the Public Record Office in London. They contained a report, signed by him, of an interview that he had carried out with Tedla Bairu, Chief Executive of federated Eritrea from 1952 to 1955. He withdrew to the dining room, leaving me to pore over pages of documents from his own neatly preserved files. I was engrossed in one particular report detailing the surrender of Hamid Idris Awate to the Eritrean Police force led by Cracknell himself in 1952, when he came back to me, clearly immersed in his own distant past.

"I must have been brave to have said all that to Tedla Bairu himself," he said, not concealing his own satisfaction. It was, indeed, an unusual interview where Cracknell had expressed his disappointment at the way the federal arrangement between Eritrea and Ethiopia was or was not working. He had been brutally frank in his criticism of Tedla for the latter's failure to protect Eritrea's rights and to allow the Ethiopians to intervene in Eritrean affairs at will. He had also accused the Chief Executive of, among other things, nepotism and a vindictive attitude towards his political opponents. I asked Cracknell to elaborate on all the points raised in that interview and he told me what he could remember. We both agreed, however, that Tedla Bairu had been remarkably cool and civil in his reply. We talked at length about Tedla's government and the Eritrean Police force during Cracknell's tenure, but that is material for an upcoming book.

I was in Bridport for only three to four hours. We thus had to cover a lot of ground in a hurry. He had come to Eritrea in 1941 from what were known as the Rhodesias at the time. As a one star lieutenant, he had been placed on top of a few Italian carabinieri and about 150 former Eritrean zabtia, the indigenous police troopers under Italian rule. "Were the Eritreans good students?" I asked Cracknell.

"They took to it, as one may say, like a duck to water. They enjoyed it. They were entirely loyal. I had no case at all of disloyalty. The Italians, on the other hand, were rather amusing. Coming into office in 1941, when things were going badly for the Allies in the desert, the carabinieri wouldn't even greet me. They would push you off the pavement. But a few days later, when things were going well for the Allies, Tobruk had been retaken and so on, they were leaping to their feet and saluting and bowing and scraping 'Signor Colonello' and all that." But he went on to praise Italian industriousness and the pivotal role that they had played in keeping the Eritrean economy going.

We talked about the shifta problem throughout his tenure.
"The Mossazghi Brothers were bad," he told me. "But Tekeste Haile was particularly blood thirsty."
"Were the Ethiopians behind that shifta movement?"
"There was this blessing. They crossed into Ethiopia with impunity. They weren't sought out or arrested by the Ethiopians. I did know that the Ethiopians had a hand in it. There was no doubt in my mind."
"Do you remember the Sudanese Defence Force massacre of unarmed Eritrean civilians in 1946?" I asked him.
"Yes, very well. A terrible tragedy."
"Do you know that many Eritreans from that period accuse the British of connivance in that event at least for having failed to take prompt action to stop it?"
"I'm sure they would," Cracknell responded. "The stupidity was that they should never have brought Sudanese troops into Asmara. In fact, it was understood that Sudanese troops should not be billeted in Asmara. But the politicians did that. It was a terrible day."
"Where were you when it happened?" "I went down to the scene when I heard the shots. But a Sudanese trooper pointed his bayonet to my chest and I was there against the wall. I couldn't get to my men."

It was Eid el Fatr that day, he said, and most of the British army officers had been out playing polo or vacationing somewhere. Eventually, they did come and the Sudanese withdrew. "I can understand how the Eritreans can accuse us of complicity," he concluded. "In fact, subsequently, they asked me to give them weapons from the armory, but I refused. Can you imagine what would have happened had I done that? It would have been more massacres. The worst part of it was that many of the Sudanese soldiers were acquitted for lack of evidence linking individuals to particular crimes. Terrible yes, Eritreans would suspect connivance."

"I understand there were Jewish activists interned in Asmara. Can you tell me about them?"
"About 1947, I think. They had been accused of terrorist activities out there and they were brought over and interned in Sembel. 107 of them escaped in twos and threes, and one lot of fifteen. 106 were recaptured; only one made it to France his name was Eliahu Lankin. Another man I had difficulty in recapturing was to become eventually the Prime Minister of Israel ­ Yishak Shamir, a little, short fellow. I knew he was trying to get to Italy on an Italian boat in Massawa. I blockaded the ship so he would not go down to it. I then arranged, secretly, a water tanker to be available for him to hide and come back to Asmara. The driver was my own policeman, you see. I ambushed the water-tanker on the outskirts of Asmara and there they were, the two of them" In other words, Cracknell had set the trap.

At last, we talked about Hamid Idris Awate, the patriot who started the Eritrean armed struggle. "He was a thorn on our side," said Cracknell, "The man lived by the sword." He gave me some examples of why he had said that. "How did he surrender?"

"Determined to bring him in before the hand-over from British to Federal rule, I took with me the holy man from Keren (and other dignitaries). I went to Haikota and sent out spies. Awate said he would meet me at dawn the next day. He surrendered to me. But he also wanted to be protected, so I allowed him to have five rifles, provided he kept close to the police post at Guluj, which he did. In later years, I found he had become far smarter than the local police there. I have some photographs of him somewhere."

I lit up, of course, and asked if I could see them. Cracknell brought some old photo albums and after leafing through them found three photographs of Awate and his men on the day of their surrender in 1952. I had never seen those pictures before. In fact, there has been a controversy about whether the man on horseback that is identified as Awate is actually he. Well, David Cracknell put that issue to rest by recently sending me that exact picture and more from his other albums. He also surprised me with two vivid pictures of Ali Muntaz, the shifta of the early 1940's and Awate's own mentor.

At the end of our talk and after Jeanne Cracknell had fed us a delicious lunch ­ and not, by any means, fish and chips ­ they were both concerned that the interview may not have been worth my trip all the way to Bridport. Incidentally, as she moved in and out of the dining room, where we were, she was all the time making comments, helping her husband recollect and enriching the interview. I told them that they had helped in more ways than they would ever guess.

As I started to leave, I asked David Cracknell what his feelings were about Eritrea " I have very kind memories," he said "After all, I spent the best part of my life in Eritrea ­ from 1941 to 1954, thirteen years apart from two in Somalia. Thirteen years between the ages of twenty-two and thirty-six, one's best years of life put into the Eritrean police force. It's my pride and joy." Then referring to the last war with Ethiopia, he said, "It was so sad to see it wounded in that way, as it was. I hope that, at last, peace is at hand."

Cracknell insisted that he see me off at the train station twenty miles away and Jeanne drove us back with the same ease and efficiency. We hugged good-bye like old friends. I am sure that most of the people in Bridport may not even have heard of Eritrea. But, as I waved the couple farewell from inside my train, I felt as if I was leaving a bit of Eritrean history in that charming house up on Walditch.

I have almost two hours of tape from the Cracknell interview. I find that the English do not speak English the way the Cracknells do ­ not anymore.

Ethiopian-Eritrean Studies: a Bibliography on Society and History

Ethiopian-Eritrean Studies: a Bibliography on Society and History, 1960 - 1995

Ethiopian-Eritrean Studies: a Bibliography on Society and History, 2010-2015, prepared by J. Abbink, Leiden: African Studies Centre

Thanks to Khaled Bushra for sharing

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Suleiman Adem Suleiman, a veteran of Eritrea’s independence

Suleiman Adem Suleiman, a veteran of Eritrea’s independence

Suleiman to the left with Ibrahim Sultan in Cairo

Suleiman Adem Suleiman, was born in 1942 in Haikota where he completed his elementary education there. He continued his studies at Agordat Middle School, began secondary education in Asmara and completed it in Kassala. In 1959, he joined the Department of Justice of the federal government that was chaired by Omer Hassan and later worked in the court of Kero and later worked a secretary to the court in Tessenei that was chaired Ukud Ahmed Horoda, He was active in opposing the Ethiopian attempts to undermine the Federation Act.

He joined, The Eritrean Liberation Movement (Haraka) in January 1960, he was a member of a cell chaired Mohamed Adem Haj Idris. After a short while with ELM, he was approached by martyr Abdulrahman Shubak who was delegated by Hamid Idris Awate to enrol youth in the ELF and support the Eritrean armed struggle. He joined the ELF where he established a clandestine cell whose members were Mohamed Idris Sheneti, Abdella Shegrai, Feki Ali Ibrahim, Hamid Omer Mentai, Musa Mohamed Hasim and Omer Khelifa. The cell further expanded recruiting other cells that covered the towns in Gash. This was done in cooperation with Ahmed Adem Omer, who was then in Haikota, and with Hamid Adem Suleiman, Gimi Mahmoud Hazam and Mohamed Ali Omer. The cell in Tessenei was an important cell as it was close to the Sudanese borders. 

The cell  recruited other persons and that facilitated the links of other ELF cells in other parts of Eritrea and  cells in Addis Ababa with the Revolutionary Council of the ELF that was based in Kassala.
Some of those who worked in facilitating contacts among the ELF cells were truck drivers and others that included Abubaker Mahmoud Derar, Mohamed Asker, Ibrahim Zeinu, Tahir Belal, Idris Haj Issa, Mohamed Aleg and others. Camels were also used for transport. Those were operated by Humed Hassab and Mohamed Assenai.

Suleiman recalls that he got a phone call from an ELF cell in Asmara some time in 1965 informing them that an important person will be sent to them from Asmara and they were told to take care of him and send him to the leadership in Kassala, and it appeared that person was Isayas Afwerki. Suleiman met him at the bus station in Tessenei. He was well received and after two days Suleiman wrote him a letter to the Revolutionary Council in Kassala and Isaias was sent to Kassala on a camel accompanied by Humed Hasseb and Mohamed Assenai.

Through those persons clandestine publications of the ELF, weapons and ammunition was transferred to the cells inside the Eritrean cities and to Addis Ababa. The cells among other things collected financial contributions from the members and the business men and those who run agricultural schemes.
The cells also assisted the Fedayeen in carrying their missions inside the towns.

On the 7th of March, 1967, Suleiman was notified by Major Abdulgadir of the Tessenei Police that the security in Asmara has found out about their cell and they will come from there to arrest them. They had no option but to go to Sudan.

Suleiman assumed various posts in the ELF:
  • -      Assistant to the Revolutionary command in Kassala, March 1967 – Augustus 1969
  • -      After the Adobha conference he was assigned as a Liaison between the Revolutionary Command and the Sudanese authorities.
  • -      After the ELF Congress in 1971, he was transferred to the ELF office in Cairo and he chaired the Office in 1974
  • -       ELF representative in Libya 1976 – 1980

After the split in the ELF, he remained with the ELF faction led by Abdella Idris
  • -       ELF representative in Baghdad 1983 – 1989
  • -       ELF representative in Cairo 1989
  • -       He was appointed as a member of the Central Committee of the ELF and a chair of the Arab and Islamic Affairs of the Foreign Relations Office of the ELF in 1989 and was based in Jeddah
  • -      Head of Cairo Office of the ELF United Organization 1989 – 1992
  • -      At the ELF congress in 2014 he asked to be relieved from his duties in the ELF to pave the way for the youth.

He passed away in Cairo in the early hours of today, the 8th of February 2017.
Suleiman was a veteran of the independence of Eritrea, a highly respected person among the Eritrean communities where he served. Despite his organizational links, he served all Eritreans irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliations. He was an intellectual, well respected and well known national figure of great calibre. He will be deeply missed by all those who knew him.

Allah Yerhamu, may his soul rest in peace and my God give comfort to his family and friends.

This Biography is based on a note written by Ali Afa Idris and is based on an interview he conducted with the late Suleiman.

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Eritrean Liberation Front: Its Emergence, Development and Demise, 1960-1981

The Eritrean Liberation Front: Social and Political Factors Shaping Its Emergence, Development and Demise, 1960-1981, a 2014 Master thesis by Michael Weldeghiorghis Tedla

My personal comment is that it is difficult to do an objective research in Eritrea on the ELF from inside Eritrea. The writer has written very little on the demise of the ELF. The reasons are much more complex. You can not one to criticize 'Nehnan Elamanan' or talk about the unholy EPLF/TPLF aggression on the ELF. His presentation is more or less with the EPLF/PFDJ narrative. Whatever the shortcomings of the study, it sheds light on some aspects of our armed struggle and thus worth reading,

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Complex Roots of the Second Eritrea-Ethiopia War

The Complex Roots of the Second Eritrea-Ethiopia War: Re-examining the Causes a 2010 article by Redie Bereketeab

Badume Kasu one of the veterans for the independence of Eritrea

بادمى كاسو واحد من المنضالين  القدماء من اجل تحرير ارتريا
Badume Kasu one of the veterans for the independence of Eritrea

Badumè Kasu one of the veterans of Eritrean independence

Badumè Kasu:  was born in Kulluku around 1889: He is the son of Shaffal Ashadù, who came from a section of Gega, in the Marda area.  He is from Kunama Aimassa who lived in the western part of Barentu. His father, Shaffal Asadù, was responsible for the Kunama’s annual tribute to the Turkish authorities in Kassala. Shaffal a descendant of Sayyd Kakashi, from Betkom, also in the Marda area. Shaffal was killed in Barentu in a combat with the Algeden. Badume studied at the ‘Scoula di Arti e Mestieri’ in Keren.

He was appointed as interpreter (translator) in the Barentu district in 1911. He was in this position up to the end of 1933. During this period, he also worked as a supervisor for the construction of the road: Agordat-Tarchina-Barentu and Barentu-Suzena-Tolè- Mocchiti. He was also a supervisor for the construction of the main canal in Tessenei. Kunama workers were involved in those construction works. He was appointed as the chief of the Kunama in 1933. Badume was well respected among the Kunama elders and dignitaries and he was consulted on issues that affected their society. His son, Mohamed Badume replaced him in 1945, as the chief of the whole Kunama. His son was a member of the Eritrean parliament since 1952, until it was dissolved in 1962. Badume was active in Eritrea’s independent movement. He was the chair of the Muslim League in Barentu and a member of the Muslim League leadership in the western lowlands.

He was also active in defending the Kunama people from the Shifta raids and together with Fait Tinga, they carried counter raids against the shifta. He was awarded medals by the Italian authorities and was awarded the title, Khelia, by Ali Sayed Al Mughani. Many songs were composed by the Kunam describing his and his colleagues braver. He was at odds with Keshi Demetros during the federation period as he was opposed to the encroachment of the highlanders in the Kunama territories.

In an interview with Abdulkadir Osman Badume, his grand son, I was told that Badume was in a very cordial relationship with Hamid Idris Awate. Awate used to stay with him whenever he visited Tessenei from Gerset. When Major Abdulgadir from the Eritrean Police Force was sent to Gerset to arrest Awate, he did not manage to arrest him. Major Abdulgadir brought with the wife of Awate which was pregnant at that time and arrested her in Tessenei. When this became known in Tessenei, Badume together with Badume then together with Sheikh Ukud Haroda and Ali Ahmed Al Sabri (Head of the Yemeni community), and asked him to release her on their responsibility. Major Abdulgadir agreed and she was released and chose to stay with  Kebro , Sheikh of the Labad.

He passed away in Tessenei in 1970, but the Kunama tribal chiefs requested that he be buried in Barentu and he was buried there according to their wish and all the dignitaries and the many of the Kunama attended his burial.

بادمى كاسو واحد من المنضالين  القدماء من اجل تحرير ارتريا

ولد بادمى كاسو في كًولكو وذلك في حوالي عام ١٨٨٩ وهو ابن لشافال اشادو القادم من ضواحى مردا وهو من عشيرة الائماسه احد البطون للكونامه التى تعيش فى الجهة الشرقية من بارنتو. كان والد بادمى  المسؤل من الكونامه امام السلطات التركية بمدينة كسلا. قتل شفال  فى احد المعارك ضد قبيلة الألغدين فى منطقة بارنتو

تلقى بادمى تعليمه فى مدرسة الأداب والفنون التي اقامتها السلطات الإيطالية لتعليم أبناء الأعيان بمدينة كرن.  وبعد ان أتم تعليمه تم تعينه مترجم فى بارنتو وذلك عام ١٩١١ الى ١٩٣٣ وفى هذه الفترة تم تعينه كمراقب لأنشاءت الطرق بين اغردات وبارنتو وايضاً عمل مسؤل حفريات الغنوات الماءية فى تسنى. كان بادمى من الشخصيات المحبوبة فى اوساط الكونامه الأمر الذى دفع الساطات الإيطالية  لتعينه ناظر للكونامه وذلك عام ١٩٣٣. فى عام ١٩٤٥ عين ابنه محمد بادمى ناظر لعموم الكونامه ومن ثم اصبح عضوا فى البرلمان الاءرترى من العام ١٩٥٢ حتى نهاية اللأتحاد الفيدرالي مع اثيوبيا ١٩٦٢  

كان بادمى نشط فى حركة استغلال ارتريا وكان مسؤل للرابطه الإسلاميه فى بارنتو وعضو في قيادة الرابطة في المنخفضات الغربية وفى نفس الوقت كان مقاوم ومدافع شرس من أجل مصالح الكونمة ومقاوم لتوطين ابناء الهضبة في مناطق الكونامة منما ادخله في نزاع القس ديمطروس.  نال بادمى بعض الميداليات من السلطات الإيطاليه كما نال حب واعجاب شعبه ورددت اللأغانى التى تزكر بمواقفه وتصديه للعصابات التى كانت تنهب المواشى. وتم منحه لقب الخليفة من قبل علي سيد المرغني

وفى مقابلة مع عبدالقادر عثمان بادمى شرح لنا ان العلاقة بين أل بادمى والشهيد حامد ادريس عواتى كانت جيدة جدا حيث كان عواتى ينزل ضيفا عند أل بادمى فى تسنى وخير دليل لهذه العلاقة عندما 
قام الميجر عبدالقادر مسؤل الشرطة بإحضارزوجة الشهيد عواتى وكانت حامل، وذالك من قرست وإعتقلها بمدينة تسنى،  تقدم مجموعة من النظار وفى مقدمتهم  بادمى  والشيخ كبرو والشيخ أكد هروده والشيخ  وعلى احمد الصبرى لإطلاق صراحها، ووفقو في ذالك. توفى بادمى فى مدينة تسنى ١٩٧٠كان طلب ابنا الكونامه ان يدفن فى بارنتو وكان لهم ذلك 
Sources: Chi E'? Del Eritrea 1952 Dizionario Biografica by Giuseppe Puglisi;  AlPerto Pollera, I Baria e i Cunama, 1913; Personal interview With Abdulkader Osman Badumè

List of publications on Ethiopia

List of publications on Ethiopia prepared by the Ethiopian National Library in 2005 - 2006 that includes publications on Eritrea

Picture: Tribal chiefs of the western lowlands in the 1940s

Tribal Chiefs of the western lowlands in Eritrea in the 1940s

صورة لرؤساء القبائل في المنخفضة الغربية في إريتريا في الأربعينات
يقف في الصف الأول من اليمين الخليفة بادمي كاسو (زعيم الكوناما)، الشيخ أري (زعيم البارييا اوالنارا)، سيد علي آلمرغني، تريزاسكس، دقلل زعيم البني عامر، وهو يرتدي القبعة ذات الثلاثة غرون التي أعطيت له من قبل مملكة الفونج رمزا لسلطته، ويليه ضابط بريطاني , الشيخ صالح مصطفى ود حسن ، موسى ود الفيل ، محمد آدم بيوداي, والصف الثاني من اليمين  أكد هرودا ،الشيخ حسن عمر أدم ، وللأسف  لا نعرف أسماء الأخرين  حتى الآن

Standing first line from the right is Badume Kasu (chief of the Kunama), Sheikh Arei (chief of the Baria (Nara)), Sayed Ali Al Murghani, Trevaskis, Deglel (Chief of the Beni Amer), wearing the three-horned cap given to him by the Funj kingdom as a symbol of his authority, English officer, Sheikh Saleh Mustafa wed Hassen, Musa wed Al fil, judge Mohamed Adem Beyudai. On the 2nd line from the right is Sheikh Ukud Haroda, Hassen Omer Adem, unfortunately we do not know the other names so far
Thanks to Abdulkader Osman Badume for the picture and to Musa Yusuf for the identification

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Documentary - Biography of President Barack Obama

Documentary - Biography of President Barack Obama

A 1934 School Certificate of the late Dr. Yassin Aberra

A 1934 School Certificate of the Late Dr. Yassin Aberra

Dr. Yassin Aberra was assasinated by the EPLF death squads at about 6 pm. in front of his house, on 31st January 1991 (26 years ago, this day), just 4 months before the liberation of Eritrea, a cause that he and his family had paid dearly to. I am sharing this certificate on the occassion of this sad day, with the kind permission of Jelal Yassin.

اغتيل الدكتور ياسين أبره من قبل فرق الموت للجبهة الشعبية  ، في مثل هذا اليوم ،في  يوم ٣١ يناير ١٩٩١ (قبل ٢٦ عامام) وكان ذالك أمام منزله حوالي الساعة ٦ مساء، عند عودته من صلات المغرب. ، وكان ذالك قبل ٤ أشهر فقط تحرير إريتريا، وهوالتحريرالذي دفع فيه وعائلته  ثمنا باهظا .  هذه شهادة مدرسية للفقيد عندما كان طالب في الصف الأول 
English translation
Page 1
Governorate of Eritrea
Central Directory of Primary Education
Boys School: Asmara
School Certificate
Pupil: Yassin Mohammed
Son of: M. Aberra Hagos       and  Amina Mohamed
Class: Primary
School Year: 1934

Page 2
Subjects written in the certificate: (Not all were taught in Grade 1),
Marks given in the 1st , 2nd and 3rd Semester
Religion, Songs, Design and Calligraphy, Reading and Reciting, Spelling, Italian Language, Arithmetic and Accounting, Other subjects, Geography, History, Science, Law and Economy concept, Conduct, Hygiene, Arabic, Tigrinya
Page 3
Final Result
Signature of the Head Teacher: S. Gaetana Berreta
Signature of the Head Master: Filippi V.N. Concetta
Page 4 (as attached)