Vision-less dictatorship is more of the Eritrean dilemma than the dictatorship itself

Vision-less dictatorship is more of the Eritrean dilemma than the dictatorship itself Afwerki damages the Eritrean society at the MIND level of the offense by Fetsum Abraham The author of "From Feminist to Rapist" and "The Curse of

Vision-less dictatorship is more of the Eritrean dilemma than the dictatorship itself

Afwerki damages the Eritrean society at the MIND level of the offense

by Fetsum Abraham
The author of “From Feminist to Rapist” and “The Curse of Being and Living It”

Humankind has gone through different forms of oppression even since the concept of Democracy originated way back in time in the era of Aristotle. To the goodness, however, many societies have conformed to democracy as the best way of managing a society. “The Constitution of the United States of America, adopted in 1788, provides the world’s first formal blueprint for a modern democracy. George Washington [was] elected as president in 1789, and again for a second term in 1792.” Unfortunately,  224 years after America’s practical reduction of democracy, people around the world are still suffering from the most savage form of political management called dictatorship.

“A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual: a dictator. It has at least two possible meanings:
1. A government controlled by one person, or a small group of people. In this form of government the power rests entirely on the person or group of people, and can be obtained by force or by inheritance. The dictator(s) may also take away much of its peoples’ freedom.
2. In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state.”

In this sense, dictatorship (government without people’s consent) is a contrast to democracy (government whose power comes from people) and totalitarianism (government controls every aspect of people’s life) opposes pluralism (government allows multiple lifestyles and opinions).”

There is no doubt that dictatorship is the most savage means of leading a modern society in this highly interconnected technological universe. It, however, is not always terrible when it has a vision. In fact some scholars contemplate that “[dictatorial]  concentration of power can be legitimate or not depending on the circumstances..” I tend to partially agree here stretching my thought to justify dictatorship for the sake of neutrality and scholar validity, although, I believe all forms of dictatorship are menace to society. But only on one condition: that the dictator has vision or the dictatorship is navigated by a visionary dictator.

This article will articulate the universal view on whether Afwerki is a visionary dictator or otherwise. The articulation should then investigate some known global dictatorial experiences vis-a-vis Afwerki’s dictatorship.

Ridiculous dictators of history and their vision:

Hitler: Hitler was a fascist and a dictator responsible for the death of millions of innocent people through inhuman means of distraction but at least he had a vision: to empower the Germans economically by eliminating the business oriented Jewish people from the country and to signify the racial superiority of the Aryan race and help it to dominate the world via his version of German fascism. Hitler believed in education and even was an author of at least a book.

: Mussolini was a fascist and a dictator as well who was responsible for many lives all over the place but he had a vision: “[he] viewed himself as the prototype of the hegemonic male, by adapting Nietzsche’s concept of the superman to fascist political theory. He argued that the New Man was to be anti-intellectual, anti-urban, anti-bourgeois and anti-feminist, but at the same time he was to be courageous, pro-virile, pro-youth and pro-action.” His further envisioned to exploit the material resources of his African colonies for Italian use and to expand the Italian Empire in Africa: the reason he colonized Ethiopia beyond his former colonies (Libya, Eritrea and Somalia).  Mussolini believed in educating his people and seriously encouraged the development of Art in Italia.

: This man was a violent dictator that costed humanity uncountable lives through wars. He, however, had a vision to accentuate the superiority of the French people to the rest of the Europeans by putting the whole Europe under his authority. “Napoleon wanted to establish a continent wide empire ruled by autocratic emperors from a dynasty founded by himself. His method of doing this was aggressive wars of conquest,and dethroning rulers and replacing them with members of his own family.” Further, though his vision of a united Europe did not succeed in his own time, “the pursuit of European Union eventually emerged. Some attribute this impulse as owing something to Napoleon’s vision, which included a common infrastructure and a common legal code for his whole empire.” Napoleon was not anti education and did not stop his people from learning in higher academic institutions.

Kadaffi: This dictator ruled the Libyans for over 40 years with iron fist. He, however, had a vision: improving the living standard of his people enormously. He made life comfortable for them to the point that almost every Libyan lived a middle-class economic life style since a long time. Kadaffi confronted western exploitation of Libyan resources aggressively and economically empowered his people by sharing the country’s wealth with the people.
He also educated his people:  “Libya’s population includes 1.7 million students, over 270,000 of whom study at the tertiary level. Education in Libya is free for all citizens, and compulsory up until secondary level. The literacy rate is the highest in North Africa; over 82% of the population can read and write.”  The State paid scholarship expenses for its scholar citizens abroad. There were at least 10 accredited Universities in Libya for a population size of 6,423,000, in 2011. This number is comparable to the population of Eritreans, folks!! Installing Kadaffi’s vision inside Afwerki’s head, this figure would make at least 9 Universities for a population comparable to that of Eritrea’s and I give him credit for this significant success.
His foreign policy was also focused in liberating Africans from western domination: he was the most effective supporter of the ANC (African National Congress) of South Africa that eventually freed the people from the horrible Apartheid. Further, Kadaffi had a vision to be the president of Africa and passed on as the most energetic African leader in transforming the OAU to AU (African Union) with a new idea of having open bordered African unity under one currency.

Fiedel Castro:
 Castro was a Communist that tried to practically implement the concept of proletarian dictatorship in Cuba. His vision was to fight American Imperialism any where in the world. To this goal, Castro directly involved in many third world struggles against Imperialism. He believed in making his country academically and technologically independent of the west and, thus educated his people to the extent of producing the “highest number of Medical Doctors in Latin and South Americas”. He also believed in free medication for all Cubans: “Cuba has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the region, with the average citizen living to 77.7 years old.”

“Cuba Education : In Cuba, primary education gets great priority. Going to the schools is a must for the children. There are numerous schools in Cuba. The courses of primary education generally continue for sis years. On the other hand there are two separate sections in the secondary education. These are the basic secondary education and after that the pre-secondary education.
Higher Education in Cuba: Higher education in Cuba means the University education. Besides universities there are other institutes for higher education in Cuba such as higher polytechnic institutes, higher pedagogical institutes, higher educational centers and so on. In Cuba the higher education is taken care of by the Ministry of Higher Education . There are almost 47 universities in the country of Cuba. Education is a very important issue in Cuba and the infrastructure is also very strong.”
This is fantastic for a nation twice as populated as our country (11,222,665 in 2011). Installing the Castro’s vision inside Afwerki’s head, this figure would make at least 23 Universities for a population comparable to that of Eritrea’s and I give him credit for this significant success.

Idi Amin
: The brutal Idi Amin was a strange dictator in Uganda. This man as bad as he was, had a vision to economically and socially empower his people. to this end, he expelled thousands of Britons and Indians out of the country and replaced their socio-economic positions by native Ugandans. Ugandans since then lived with inflated confidence compared to their old second class citizenship mentality of the past. The uplifted attitude of the president of Uganda, Mussivini is to some extent the byproduct of Amin’s vision vis-a-vis the “foreigners”. Amin did not discourage his people from education: Uganda’s  Macrere University was still active as one of the best academic institutions in Africa during his administration.

Sadam Hussein: This dictator was cruel to anyone against his authority but was concurrently responsible for the decent economic survival of his people, needless to say that he produced outstanding scientists through solid education in Iraq.  “The education system in Iraq was well resourced, globally connected, secular and open to women.  University education was free and literacy levels rose from 52 percent in 1977 to 80 percent in 1987 [under his leadership]”. There were 54 Universities in Iraq in the era of Sadam Husein for 33 Million Iraqis (one University per 1.75 Million people).  Installing Sadam’s academic vision for the Iraqis inside Afwerki’s head, this figure would make at least 3 Universities for a population comparable to that of Eritrea’s and I give him credit for this significant success.
As far as his political vision was concerned Sadam created the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party which blended Arab nationalism and Arab socialism in one. He also envisioned to recover the Iraqi historical might of the past and even invaded Kuwait to that effect.

Bashir: This dictator with all his problems had a vision for Sudan. He at least settled the destructive war in the South through negotiation with the Southern Sudanese making it possible for both sides to coexist peacefully, at least in the future if not today. He also managed to negotiate a better petroleum business deal with China compared to what it would be with the western powers. In so far as education is concerned, Bashir never stood in the way and Sudan as a whole survives owning 27 active Universities as of today.
Considering that the Sudanese as a whole were 31 Million people, we are taking about one University per about 1.1 Million Sudanese. Installing Bashir’s academic vision for the Sudanese inside Afwerki’s head, this figure would make at least 5 Universities for a population comparable to that of Eritrea’s and I give him credit for this significant success.

Mugabe: This dictator had a vision as well: To empower the peasantry class of the country by nationalizing the vast lands used by the former colonizers of Zimbabwe and handing them over to the tillers. Mugabe at least allows people to talk about and write on national issues including an opposition political Party to exist in his country. 13 Million people enjoy 16 universities in today Zimbabwe. Installing Mugabe’s academic vision for his people inside Afwerki’s head, this figure would make at least 6 Universities for a population comparable to that of Eritrea’s and I give him credit for this significant success.

: This dictator could not understand Communism to be categorized as a Communist in my opinion but at least had a vision: one of them being in the areas of educating the masses through his partially successful NATIONAL LITERACY CAMPAIGN. Mengistu was never anti education and the inherited academic institutions IN ETHIOPIA survived well in the country under his rule. He even left Asmara University intact with all his contradictions with our national cause. He also was determined to keep Ethiopia united and fought for this purpose till the end. Further, the dictator was a dedicated opponent of colonialism in Africa who helped the struggle of Zimbabwe to succeed; needless to state that he abolished NIGSINET and Feudalism in Ethiopia indirectly paving the way for the current democratic experience of the country.


Apparently, all dictators needed to dominate power in order to effectuate their visions. Although they had different agendas to implement, none of them destroyed any academic institution/s in their countries unlike Afwerki who destroyed the only accredited University in our country (Asmara University employed about “160 Doctors” by the time he closed it for no reason other than hurting the society). The University even survived the Hailesselassie and the Mengistu regimes before Afwerki killed it. In so doing, Afwerki stands alone as the only anti-education dictator the planet ever produced and mistreated the Eritreans worse than the Ethiopian colonizers in this regard. He did his incalculable damage to the Eritrean society in terms of ignorance like no one ever did to them except the Italian colonizers. The result is an uneducated generation that would cost our society for generations to come.
Imagine how much effort Meles Zenawi did in Ethiopia (close to 160 Universities and colleges) in just as much time in power as our dictator’s, irrespective of their academic quality. Ethiopians are 85 Million and this figure translates to 2 institutions per one Million of them. Installing Meles’s academic vision for Ethiopians inside Afwerki’s head, this figure would make at least 10 higher academic institutions for a population comparable to that of Eritrea’s and I give him credit for this significant success.

What we witnessed in the journey is that the city of Makalle alone has more colleges and universities than the entire Eritrea. Adigrat or Adwa individually has at least a University which the entire Eritrea does not. This asserts the fact the the best weapon of Afwerki’s dictatorship has been IGNORANCE (DINKURINA) , which is a unique version of dictatorship in the world.
People rather be killed than denied knowledge through education in my opinion. To me this is intolerable and dangerous to our society. In simple expression, we are in a very serious problem that threatens our existence as a nation. We can not be compete with our neighbors mentally according to Afwerki’s social formula and the damage is showing its symptoms already. No dictator ever tried to rule society through the power of ignorance the way Afwerki did in my conclusion. Eritrea in this regard can not tolerate the president for a day let alone for more years to come. This is the Eritrean reality that people must face and resolve immediately without buts and ifs. The academic call of our nation is very urgent and it needs immediate attention of every Eritrean before it gets too late at a point in the go.

Unlike other societies under dictatorship, Eritreans are poorer in his administration even compared to their experience under other administrations. They could not develop their Islands and the massive Red Sea resources for their advantage. Unlike other dictators, Afwerki weakens his people economically and does not want them to utilize their lands and seas at all. His punishment in this sense is so gross that Eritrea owns one beach in Gorgusoom which it self was inherited from the Ethiopians. This president did not allow the people to produce anything out of their natural wealth as of today. National priorities have been neglected and focus terribly misplaced in 22 years of incomparable dictatorship!!!

Eritrea has become the highest refugee producing country in the world under his administration.  Unlike the others, he enslaves the youth institutionally. Afwerki destroyed the family structure of the society and imprisoned over 10,000 Eritreans without due trial or any other form of justice. We are now the only people without a constitution and a University. I will try to write an article to this effect soon.

Little said about the mess, his achievement in the art of destruction does not and can not represent his vision since destruction has never been considered as one. Vision requires creativity that positively impacts society, which Afwerki notoriously lacks. I tend to argue that the problem in Eritrea may not necessarily be the dictatorship of Afwerki but its vision-less anarchy. The question is why Afwerki wants to stay in power at any cost without any vision and why some Eritreans are accepting this humiliation?

Review overview
  • Ahmed February 1, 2013

    I am very admired by the writing of Mr. Fusum Abraham. His writings are illustrative and written in avery simple manner which can be understood by any one. He is unlike other writers who choose very hard and uncommon english words just to portray themselves as highly educated people. In this regard, I invite all writers to follow the path of Mr, Fusum while writing any article concerning our coutry so that the majority may have a common understanding.

  • Berhane( london) February 1, 2013

    Wedi sheqa,

    If Esyass gose soon as you are predicting, I will buy you foul mare reguo ab da remami.

    • fetsum abraham February 2, 2013

      Brother Berhane;
      Hope we will eat foul maergo together inda remami. Love u and say hi to all mekelinos there. Would be nice to hear from Gere if u can initiate contact for me.

      • Berhane( london) February 4, 2013

        Thank you Fitsum.Had dinner with Mekonnen yesterday and we were talking about you.I haven’t see gere for a while; he has become like shehane( remember?. Do you recall Kebede Hyena, Teklehaimanot mahayem, Nigist amean, Feseha hasas, Atelowmway etc ?

  • Abraham Tewelde February 3, 2013

    I read your articles and as always I agree in half. Vision or better, the Weltanschauung of every dictator is the daughter of the time and the circumstances,and of their people. Starting with Hitler you say, his purpose was to dominate Europe and the world, and to do this he needed all the tools, create an ideology the National Socialism (Nazism), identify the enemy, Jews and the communists in the first place and all Untermenschen, hence the racial superiority etc. .. and therefore education is essential to demonstrate the superiority of Aryan people, so it is at the service of the despot. Mussolini is also similar to Hitler, part of its ideology such the new man is the result of the Futurist movement that the true acquiescence of Nietzsche. Those two dictators contemplate the glorious past of their countries, the greatness of the Roman Empire, and the first and second reich, that is completely inappropriate but you known the masses want to hear this like the eritrean when they say we have fought against USA and USSR. Those are just with Stalin, that we can define the true representatives of totalitarianism. The rest of the dictators that you mentioned can only be counted among the various tyrants and absolutist princes and kings of the past but of the modern era. I’m just sorry to read that Hitler was educated and also wrote a book, for that matter even Issaias or who for him wrote books like Nhnan Ylamanan, which like Mein Kampf is only for to laugh.
    And it is ridiculous your assessment of Quazzaffi as a Pan-Africanist, like the others you mentioned they do not deserve the dignity of being considered men, and those who consider them as a leader, seriously they need to look for some Dr. Freud, with regards Abraham.