Medhanie Haile Afle: a lawyer, a journalist, a poet and a sportsman

Daniel R Mekonnen
3 May 2004
Pretoria, South Africa

Almost three years has lapsed since the illegal detention of the reformers (members of "the G-15"), the journalists and scores of citizens in September 2001 and after. And this year again we are celebrating the World Freedom of Press Day for the third time since the incarceration of all the above compatriots in general, my college-mate, colleague and friend Medhanie Haile Afle in particular. This year, on the occasion of the World Freedom of Press Day, I decided to say something in connection to one of my best friends, an icon of justice, who unfortunately is languishing in the dungeons of the PFDJ.

"Life is unfair," used to say Medhanie, may be in a more predictable way to the tight spot he has to come across; but unquestionably without knowing that life would be that much unfair to him self. He used the above expression whenever he witnessed any sort of injustice happening to any one. I don't exactly remember who originally said the sentence; one thing I am sure about is that it was Medhanie's favourite quotation. Truly life is unfair. It is so unfair when it becomes iniquitous to people who strive to make the best out of it - people who try to live life to the fullest.

Medhanie is an all-rounded man: by education a lawyer, by profession a journalist and a lawyer, by hobby a poet and by championships a sportsman. As a member of the first group of law graduates ("the First Batch") since independence, he is the only person with LLB degree. "Thanks" to the dungeons of the PFDJ that Meda was arrested shortly before his proposed trip to South Africa to pursue his masters in Media Law. All members of his batch have successfully accomplished their LLM in various fields save for him. He was arrested in September 2001 while his trip was scheduled for November of the same year. Meda was not lucky enough to join "the First Batch" who left Asmara "once and for all" in various times until Eritrea proves to be a democratic state founded on human dignity and the rule of law. By the same token, Eritrea was not lucky enough to avail it self from the contribution of Medhanie and his likes on whom the country has invested a lot. The last group of "the First Batch" left Eritrea on the 1 st of November 2001, after Meda's two months of incarceration.

Medhanie, as an assistant editor, was the backbone of Keste Debena, one of the leading opposition papers until its ban in September 2001. The editor-in-chief of the said paper, Milkias Mihreteab, luckily escaped arrest before the arrest of Meda; now Milkias lives in USA. A one-time champion of Eritrean table tennis tournament, Medhanie enjoys as well reading and writing poems. Although his verses have never been published, I have heard him reading and talking about many of his works in our many conversations.

Apart from that, Medhanie is an energetic, enthusiastic and committed professional who has predicted to have a successful life after college education. He has not only forecasted that by bluntly telling his classmates that he will get the better of every one of them after college but also by proving it practically in the highly competitive profession of journalism. Like many other young people, Medhanie was active member of the Eritrean army when arrested on unsubstantiated grounds that remained so until today. One day, however, Eritrea will tell the true story of its heroes one of whom is Medhanie Haile Afle.

For the time being, I will conclude my piece by recommending my readers to read a piece of Tigrinya verse I did some time before and posted on the 3 rd of November 2003 on The poem, which was laterally meant for Medhanie, is available at the following link:

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The Eritrean Alliance
Dec. 2003
VOL 1 No. 5

WOGAHTA News Letter
NO. 37