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Thank You Our African Brothers and Sisters

Thank You Our African Brothers and Sisters The Open Letter our African brothers and sisters wrote to Eritrea’s Head of State, Isaias Afwerki, is a breath of fresh air in the stale atmosphere of African politics

Thank You Our African Brothers and Sisters

The Open Letter our African brothers and sisters wrote to Eritrea’s Head of State, Isaias Afwerki, is a breath of fresh air in the stale atmosphere of African politics and diplomacy. It came on the 55th Anniversary of the establishment of the OAU (the predecessor of the African Union), which falls one day after Eritrea’s Independence Day, and it thus carries a poignant symbolic significance. It signifies a Pan-Africanist spirit as well as reflecting a spirit of liberation that had given birth to a new African nation, following a long and arduous struggle. It is a simple message, simply expressing a wish to visit Eritrea and requesting the President to allow such a visit, which includes visits to meet with government Ministers as well as prisoners, including journalists, who had been locked up without any legal process for over seventeen years, just for daring to exercise their civil and constitutional rights.

Speaking for myself, having been privileged to have known some of the people who wrote the letter, including Professor Wole Soyinka, whom I consider a good friend, I was not surprised when news of the letter hit the headlines; but I was thrilled and most grateful that Africa had come to the rescue, that the Pan-Africanist spirit was invoked in defense of our people’s rights. I was also pleased that the letter was couched in polite, diplomatic language, avoiding preaching and any hint of high-mindedness. The letter even made reference to problems some of their own nations were facing, but that Eritrea’s predicament of total denial of elementary human rights, and deadly isolation, is beyond the pale. Hence the timely and welcome intervention of our African brothers and sisters whose conscience has been pricked and who had waited long to see changes that did not come. And, after years of hope for change, they decided to intervene in a desperate effort to induce change of behavior from Eritrea’s leader.

The dominant sentiment of the letter is a deep-rooted concern for the plight of the Eritrean people, and a Pan-Africanist spirit of solidarity with a people that the writers of the letter considered (and called) heroic. The writers expressed their ardent desire to see them and their country emerge form isolation and join the family of fellow African peoples.

Will Mr. Isaias Afwerki respond positively to the requests of the writers of the letter? Judging by the desoerate comments of the propaganda machine that appeared in the government website, which reflects a knee-jerk reaction by the regime’s Department of Information, it would be unwise to expect anything better. Having been a member of the G-13, and knowing him as I do, I have no illusion that Isaias will respond positively. The G-13, a group of Eritrean scholars and other professionals, had pleaded with him to make peace with his colleagues in the government and erstwhile comrades-in-arms (during the armed struggle) and agree to implement the ratified constitution that he had suppressed. He refused and when they persisted by calling for the convening the Congress of the governing party, he proceeded to arrest and detain them. They have been in detention and incommunicado ever since, and many have either died or suffered bodily and mental harm.

The important point is that all of Africa, has turned its gaze on Eritrea, through the eloquent pens of its men of letters, and democracy and human right s activists. In other words, Africa’s needed awareness of Eritrea’s tragic plight has been expressed by its voices of conscience. We cannot have wished for more.

So, we say:



Bereket Habte Selassie

Emeritus Distinguished Professor of African Studies and Professor of Law

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Fellow, African Academy of Sciences

Review overview
  • Seyoum Tesfaye June 16, 2019

    The right person wrote the right thank you note. Again the combined pen that wrote the message must be taken as a recognition and RESPECT to the Eritrean people. Most of the authors of the letter are familiar with their countries version of tyranny. For them to stand with the people of Eritrea is the highest honor any African people can garner.

    Dr. Bereket clearly recognizea the spirit and essence of the combined message. He honers them on behalf of the voiceless people of Eritrea. He more than anuone is qualified to extend this thank you message.

    Thanks Professor!

  • Mike June 16, 2019

    Well, this guy messed up on framing soundly the constitution for Eritrea and he is trying a recovery campaign. Men and Women who take leadership role and “collude” leave bad taste to the rest of us. Worst yet, structurally shaky, and disturbing. Why coming out of hibernation now?

    Well, Peace to all and hope the movement keeps burning.

  • Merhaba June 17, 2019

    what do you need to do or say to be allowed to participate here

    • admin June 24, 2019

      Merhaba , a.k.a mekonen semere,
      First you need to have one nick name not two.

  • mekonen semere June 18, 2019

    Merhaba Aka Mekonen Semere, you must be getting gradually tired. Atum kuburat deki kuburat , neai nzekhri wuzuat, zetehasyu,messelom zeyrekebu , suaat endalalna, kenetaasuni ekua entefentenkum, bedem swuate tziwatu kemzelekum ayredeakumnn? hizbawi kalssenna bedemmna mis hafasch hizbenna , awetna nay geden sweatnna meswaetom nekentu Aykonen nertra zedlya dchumat etkonun entaydea Muhuran. wechu wedi wechu denakuur nemuhran kediom mes azaab adi gedifomma. Kabzi temeharru awet nehash. please please show some respect and honestly with simple email me what happend and went here recently, bizare criminal fake reporting. I polietely some one respond and explaine what was going on here ? I have recored fake images of fallse impretion , FAKE !! Trump !! Assenna has to be Hizbawit or not ?

  • Hidat June 18, 2019

    ገለ ካብዞም ዝፈረሙ ኣሕዋት ኣፍሪቃዉያን ይቅሬታ ክሓቱ ምኻኖም ርጉጽ እዬ ናየ ጊዜ ሕቶ ጥራሕ ኢዬ

    • Tewelde June 18, 2019

      You are the one who need to apologize without any time lost! The problem
      with Isayas and PFDJ is candid for any one with open eyes and good listening ears! Wodehanky Hidat…