The Story of Woldeab Woldemariam – Commentary

  There are very few Eritreans who went through the various periods of Eritrean history - Italian colonial period, British Military Administration, federation, liberation struggle and post-independence; one of them is an elder by the name


There are very few Eritreans who went through the various periods of Eritrean history – Italian colonial period, British Military Administration, federation, liberation struggle and post-independence; one of them is an elder by the name of Woldeab Woldemariam who passed away on 16 May 1995.  Unfortunately, abona Woldeab Woldemariam’s history, in spite of his popularity, died with him. Apart from some superficial accounts given by the powers that be, many Eritrean researchers believe that his contributions did not achieve a proper structure and process.  Although seven attempts were made on his life prior and after the federation era (for standing up to federating, and later annexing Eritrea to Ethiopia), he remains absent from Eritrean history books.  In spite of spending all his life campaigning for the independence of Eritrea, surprisingly, there is no account of his accomplishments.  Why? Was he merely a myth or a true Eritrean hero?

Denying Eritreans a solid grounding in the history of their country is calculated to produce a generation of passive citizens that could easily be misled by the political masters. Therefore, to follow Mr Woldemariam’s journey is believed to be an essential account that enables the public to study, appraise and challenge other versions that have been floating around.  To go further, to learn the history of Woldeab Woldemariam is to grasp the grand tapestry of Eritrean creativity and tragedy, to see both commonalities and differences among its ethnically, religiously and geographically divided population, to trace both continuities and changes from liberation struggle to post-independence era, and thus to identify how past and future journeys crisscross.

Once again, a proper understanding of Eritrean history, not history written by the victorious faction, is likely to prompt the public to ask relevant questions about their existence.  Therefore, it is worth researching whether Woldeab’s story is an authentic story of heroism.

Dawit Mesfin finally finished his account of abona Woldeab Woldemariam and the book has just been published. It is believed the account will shed light on the issues raised above. In his most recent article posted at, Dawit stated:

Although my primary objective is to evoke a picture of Eritrea via the story of a unique individual set in an era prior to the armed struggle, I came to realize the portrayal of Woldeab Woldemariam’s story would only cover certain aspects of the history of Eritrea. It does not do justice to those aspects shaped by Sheik Ibrahim Sultan, Tessema Asberom, Abdulkadir Kebire and others.  And then there are those who opposed Woldeab and his fellow campaigners of the Eritrea-for-Eritreans campaign. But they own the other side of the story. This is Woldeab’s.

Dawit is of the belief that Eritrea’s past is not adequately researched; therefore, he argues that present day beliefs and assumptions are likely to be distorted because of their one-sided approach to facts.  Even within the limits imposed by the current Eritrean political environment, the country’s history should not be distorted by fraud, narrow nationalism, evident prejudice, or simple errors.  Actually, one can argue that the awareness of today’s Eritrea and the capacity of its historians in dealing with its problems intelligibly depend not only on what is known, but also on what is not known.

Aboy Woldeab is believed to possess perceptive insights into the human condition. However, the public know very little of what he was really like.  That is where this new book comes in.  What did aboy Woldeab think of the direction the armed struggle was heading? Why was he so quiet for many years? Was he, perhaps, forced to wear a straitjacket of sorts in his later years?

The book can be purchased from for now.  It will also be available at Amazon US and UK in the coming days.

Review overview
  • andom June 14, 2017

    It puzzles me though why is that it is tigray born in eritrea or grew up in eritrea are the leaders, advocates and history makers of the struggle for eritrean independence? Weldeab weldemariam is from tigray mother and father. So is iseyas? So is hagos gebrehiwet ( kisha)?

  • Nahon June 14, 2017

    Weldeab Weldemariam (WelWel) was a great son of Eritrea who risked his life several times to stand for freedom of his people. But the regime of Mr. Iseyas want all such big names in Eritrean history, the heroes like WelWel, Kebire, Abrahim Sultan and a many others like them to be forgotten. They want the new generation to known only the names of Iseyas’ loyalists, the slave owners, or some one like Puskin.
    The regime is working very hard to remove from history even it’s own leaders like Petros Solom, Serifo, Duru .etc.
    This shifta regime’s attempt to destroy every aspect of Eritrean history resulted in the new Sawa generation that is dis-informed and confused.

  • k.tewolde June 14, 2017

    In today’s Eritrean climate marred with character assassination,defamation and historical distortion,here comes a book that opens a window to character definition,that is what freedom of press and expression is all about.Would that day ever prevail in our homeland soon?

  • Woldeab June 14, 2017

    Mr. Andom,
    Are you telling me that Adi Zarna-Seraye is a Village in Tigray? He is from that village and his family lived in Adizarna for more than 100 years.

    Where are you from? You may be from one of the villages in Eritrea and your family may have lived in Eritrea for less or more than the number of yours where Woldeab’s family lived. I don’t know if your family ever told you where their ancestors come from, Most family don’t tell their kids where they came from because of two reasons:
    1. They don’t know where their ancestors came from or
    2. They don’t want to tell their kids, because of several reasons.

    Now, your ancestors might have come to Eritrea earlier/later than Woldeab’s family. So what is the difference?

    Lets respect each other and focus on issues.


    • Bazen June 14, 2017

      ayte woldeab,
      Welwel was a proud man of his rich millennial history identity, his own land’s languages and culture. He had never been ashamed of his Tigre Tigrinya languages or heritage.
      He may had been born in Adi Zarna but he was also proud of his grandparents and ancestors in Axum, Tigray in present Ethiopia.
      I am wondering why are you trying to change Welwels identity? An Eritrean can come from anywhere be it Barentu, Tio, Dekemhare, Gonder, Axum, Adigrat, Asmara or Keren …?
      Ask how many Eritrean famous singers derefti, soccer players, political leaders, prominent business people come Tigray, Wello or Gonder? As long as they care for Eritrea and defend its own land’s languages, history, laws and tradition, then they are Eritreans.

    • andom June 15, 2017

      I did not write a fiction or bela belew. I was serving at immigration and came across his. I did his entry my self and am not joking. Believe it or not he is fro tigray.

  • micheal June 14, 2017

    አቦና ወልደኣብ ወልደማርያም ብክሊቲኦም ወለዶም ካበዚ ሎሚ “ትግራይ” ኢልና ንጽወኦ ደቡብ መረብ ይውለዱ፡፡ ኣብ ግዘ ፌዴሬሽን ናይ ዓለምና ፖለቲካን፣ ናይ አምሃራይ ስነ ልቦናን ጠንቂቆም ዝፈለጡን ነይሮም፡፡ ኤርትራ ነፃ ሃገር ንክተከውን ብቀዳምነትን ብትረት ኣብ መድረክ ዝተቃለሱን ዝተሟገቱን’ዮም- ከምተን ኩለን ኣብ መግዛእቲ ዝነበራ ሀደስቲ ሃገራት ማለት’ዩ፡፡ እቲ ዘያሥርህ ድሁር ስነ ልቦና ገዛእቲ ኣምሃሩ ጠንቂቆም ምስተረደኡ ክኣ “እዚኦም’ሲ እንኳንዶ ክገዝእኳስ አይቲግዛኣዮም’ውን” ዝብል ፈላጥ ዘረባ ገደፉልና፡፡ ነዊህ ዕድመ ዝተአደሉ ፈላጥ ፡፡ እቲ ትግርኛ ተዛራባይ ሕዝቢ ኣብዙይን ኣፍቱይን ተበጣጢሱ እንተይኮነስ ናብ ሀደ ተጠርኒፉ ጥንኩር ህዝቢ ዝወነነት ሀገር ናይ ምምስራት ትምኒት ነይሩዎም፣ እዙይ ኣብ ሂወቶም ዕውን ብዘይምኳኑ ክኣ “ሀንቲ ዓይነይ እንዳራአየት እሀልፍአለኩ!!!” ኢሎም፡፡ ኤርትራ ነፃ ምውፃኣ አሀጉሲዎም፣ እቲ ትግርኛ ተዛራባይ ከመሃገር ናብ ሃደ ዘይምጥርናፉ ክኣ አጉህይዎም፡፡ ሳላ ህንፉፋት ሥልጣን መራህቲ ሻዕብያን፣ወያነን ትምኒት ኣቦና ወልደኣብ ንግዚኡ ትምኒት ኮይኑ ተሪፉ፡፡ ማዐማር ገዳፊ ነበር መራሂ ሊብያ ኣብ ሀደ እዋን “ከም ሃገር ቁንጣር ሕዝቢ ሂዝካ ኣብ ዝብጽሆ የልቦን ኢሉ!!! ፣እቲ ኣቦና ወልደኣብ ቅድሚ 60-ዓመታት ዝበልዎ ተጋሂድዎ’ዩ፡፡ ደንቆሮን ስስኡን ሰብ ምስ ሀውን ወዲሀውቦኡን ይጠማማት ይናቆት፤ እቲ ተመናመነ መንነቱ ዝኮነ ሕዝቢውን ፈሸክሸክ ኢሉ ሰሲኑ ዓለም ዝሸፈነ ይመስሎ- ብኣ አቢሉ ክኣ ሕዝቢ አጽኒቱ ኣብ መወዳእታ ዘርኡ ያጥፍእ፡፡ ሥሱእ፣ ደንቆሮ፣ ዘይሥልጡንን ሀደጋን ማለት ክኣ ንሱ’ዩ::

  • Amba June 14, 2017

    it is wonderful to see the history a great man in written form. ato Woldeab was a very respected man, proud of his identity and history. He himself had written and said in response to Tedla Bairu’s accusations in the early 1950s that he is very proud man of his own ancestors who hail from the center of our civilization – Axum, Tigrai.
    it is good to see such role models of people who respect their own identity, languages and millennial history.

  • k.tewolde June 15, 2017

    If this remarkable man and his likes were given a chance to lead, today’s Eritrea state of affairs wouldn’t have assumed the strange image it has currently,’nations are the inevitable products of capitalism’..K.M.Yes,a nation was born prematurely before a true full fledged national consciousness,and the outcome…..I don’t need to go any further.