In part one I provided the list of who was who in the
EFLNA/ENASA/EPLF that would eventually lead to who is who in
PFDJ of today. But, a friend gently reminded me that a great
deal had occurred since 2005, when Ms.
Hpener’s article was published in Eritrean Studies
Review and kindly offered the following factual observations –
a point or two is in order before I enumerate them.
The evolution of the following influential individuals
as they navigate through the torrential landscape of Eritrea’s
socio-political landscape has this interesting cycle to it.
Indeed, true to form, some fall out of favor and falter;
others walk the thin line and survive the ever revolving door
of the musical chair as they thrive for the top. Yet others
find themselves struggling with the trepidations of life as
they search for the best medical treatments their influence
can buy. But the very musical chair continues to sing,
unpredictably, out of tune tunes.
For all its worth, here is the updated list in
At the writing of this note some of my note below might
even be outdated – please keep that in mind as you read on:
1. Haile Menkerios: Defected from the PFDJ and
currently hold a prominent position with the UN, as Assistant
Secretary-General for Political Affairs, not representing
Eritrea, of course.
2. Naizghi Kiflu: currently living in London critically
ill and on continuous medical care - dialysis, etc.
3. Andeberhan Weldegiorgis- left Eritrea last year and
never returned. His status is unconfirmed emanating from two
contradicting news: One saying he is severely ill and was seen
in Belgium when he was there for treatment; and another saying
he was there looking for a job. Prior to sending this note a
friend had penned me to say that Andeberhan Woldegiorgis is
working as Director of Africa Advocacy for the International
Crisis Group based in Nairobi, Kenya, courtesy of Google.
4."Dinesh" and "Lilo": No news on them but they don't
seem to be on the PFDJ's VIP list.
The story of EFLNA/ENASA is taking a rather interesting
turn. Through the feedbacks I have received I decided to
investigate further prior to elucidating on Mengisteab Yisaq’s
life within EFLNA/ENASA. Outside it, nobody seems to know
about the man but plenty more about the era.
This much is known about the era. Several credible
sources that I have spoken to at length bring forth a clearer
picture on how messy and turbulent the gedli years were within
and without Eritrea's proper.
The slash and burn, the political savagery, the
character assassinations of individuals who stray out of the
political norm, that norm as dictated by the EPLF in the past
and PFDJ of today, continues unabated. Mengisteab Yisaq and I
now just learned of Petros Yohannes were just that: the
political black sheep of that era as much as G-15 members and
thousands of others are of today’s Eritrea.
One event worth raising for others to expound upon is
the warning flag that was detected but went under the radar
screen so quickly by EFLNA members is the liquidation of
Menka'. According to Ms. Hepner, Tsegai "dinesh" had met with
Issayas Afewerki and Masfin Hagos on fact finding mission but
his fear and in turn the EFLNA's fears would be tamed as a
result of what these two leader had told Tsegai. The only
phrase used by Ms. Hepner was that with "heavy heart" Issayas
would tell Tsegai his wish to keep the incident under the
radar screen, but the ramifications of which will come to
haunt Mengisteab personally later when he dissented from
EPLF's line of thinking.
During the late ‘70s when Mengisteab was falling out of
favor, the EPLF morale was low, for EPLF and ELF were forced
to withdraw because the Soviet Union, East Germany, Cuba, the
Socialist Yemen of the time, all were parachuting down into
the liberated zones of Eritrea as they helped the Derg
consolidate its power by regaining most of the Eritrean land
Mengisteab Yisaq as the chair of EFLNA/ENASA all he
wanted was for EPLF to unequivocally denounce the Soveit Union
for its transgression. Another reason Mengisteab was critical
of EPLF was the same reason for which EPLF was critical of ELF
for unanimously deciding to negotiate with the Derg of
Ethiopia for peace previously.
Mengisteab Yisaq courageously called on EPLF to task
using the same line of reasoning it used to criticize ELF
because EPLF was negotiating peace terms without preconditions
with Ethiopia. For that a litany of unflattering terms were
hurled at the man, ranging from "traitorous" to even likening
Mengisteab to Jim Jones, a cult figure who had led his
follower into a cyanide binge.
Similarly, EPLF followers were hurling any insult that
might stick. Thus "Jim Jones of Eritrea" was one that they
attempted to label the man with, because he simply thought
outside the groupthink. If anyone would fit the cult bill, it
would have been those that were throwing an insult at
Mengisteab and his comrades of the time like the late Petros
Yohannes, a student from Canada, who ended up in the field at
such turbulent time and soon after to be pronounced dead by
accident in the fields of Eritrea. Incidentally, EPLF would
give a martyr’s certificate to Petros Yohannes’
family: location Embatkalla, not Sahel as it was first
thought. Andeberhan Woldegiorgis was Petros’
archenemy, the source added. This trusted source
alleges that the controversial booklet was written–mainly-by
the two fallen men.
In the final analysis the EPLF members were the ones
that were immersed in the cultish behavior by, insidiously or
not, following the EPLF line blindly.
Late ‘70s seemed to be replete with ideologically
aligned mind set. On the one hand, there was EPLF and ELF in
the fields of Eritrea advancing the idea of Marxism, Leninism,
Socialism, any "isms" that had no basis in reality but a tinge
of pragmatism, only because these two freedom fighting forces
were facing the reality on the ground by fighting the enemy
On the other hand, there was EFLNA/ENASA with its
homogeneous make up preventing it from seeing its idealized,
purely theoretically based knowledge of Eritrea, making it
difficult for this group to think outside the groupthink. Out
of some 600 members who attended the conference in Washington
D.C., during the summer of ’79, after which the ENASA name was
changed and became part of the mass organization, there were
less than a handful of Eritreans from different ethnic and/or
religious background. There is something to be said about the
homogeneity of the ENASA movement. The overwhelming number of
ENASA’s make up was that of the highlanders who were akin to
their brethren of EPLF in the fields.
Barely 9th grader in Cairo in 1979, at the time of this
massive condemnation of EFLNA by EPLF, I was friends with many
EPLF members and am now being reminded of the following facts.
I did not comprehend what the hoopla that my roommates and
friends were talking about, passionately at that. The EPLF
members in Cairo were prepared to receive the translated
version of the controversial booklet only to be prevented by
the arrival, in the nick of time, of Naizghi Kiflu, Alamin M.
Said and Haile Menkerios, who discouraged any discussions of
the translated material let alone disseminating it to its
The other source that I spoke to at length advised me
to follow the money-line. Following the money-line, based on
Ms. Hepner’s writing, it places the money man, Hagos Kisha,
The Tresurer, who was in the field for a visit and came back
to unequivocally align himself with EPLF line of thinking in
condemning the Mengisteab Yisaq;s group. By default, one has
to assume that Kisha had delivered bKisha all the money that
was collected, which EPLF vehemently wished to
One can attempt to skirt the era with whatever means at
one’s disposal. This era in question, however, needs to be
explored in a much deeper and scholarly level that it
deserves, much like the rest dissenters in the movements
within both ELF and EPLF that had claimed so many lives, their
only "crime" being challenging the status quo.
We have not come a long ways yet. The attack mongering
and this sphere of intimidation is etched in the highland
Eritreans’ mind set, which needs to be disposed of, much like
the Hamas style of politicking and not far from that of
Taliban needs some serious thought, thoughts that can lead to
eradicating such line of thinking; its destructive nature is
well apparent in the way any Eritrean who opposes certain line
of thinking is hastily labeled as "Agame" as if none of the
highlanders roots were from there. Talk about self-hatred: No
other ethnic group that I know dismisses one’s own roots
within Eritrea in a manner in which we the highlanders do, all
for the sakes of a very short sighted political axe to
The multiculturalism that EPLF used to advocate during
its struggling years is nothing but a pipe dream, a dream
turning into a nightmare ever so quickly. EPLF might have had
its idealism but none of it is being applied into post
Paying homage to the transnational fighters, those that
are alive and those that passed on, no less, deserve our
utmost respect. Eritreans did not just fight from within the
field, but across the oceans and over the terrains of African
plateaus; and the deserts of sub-Saharan Africa, in it being
consumed and subsumed to bring forth a nation that they could
call their own, which is now being claimed by a handful
leaders who think they know what’s best for this new nation
and extending the gedli years of butchering and liquidating
whoever else that gets in the way will not do the country an
iota of good.
For more read on ENASA’s position paper of condemnation
of EPLF’s capitulation please click on the link