The two Musketeer Cousins


By T, Staffer of De Birhan Media

06 April 2012

I hope most of you are aware of the legendary story of the The Three Musketeers .

A novel and now a film. 

Ethiopia and Eritrea have their own not exact but slightly similar musketeers to the three. Meles and (I)Esayas. 


Coming to Europe as a first generation Ethiopian immigrant some six years ago, I had to learn a lot from the uncomplicated but learned customs, services and entitlements to the most bonding vindictiveness against our northerly neighbours. Yeah part of the learning process was adapting to the new set of mind of reframing my approach with my new Eritrean acquaintances. I had grown up in the middle of Addis with Eritrean neighbours, unforgettable  “Ameche’’ Addis Abeba born second generation ‘immigrant’ Eritrean best friends and classmates. Never was there a day, I wondered about their ethnicity and nationality except that they aligned themselves with so called “Tegadaly (combatant) uncles and relatives”, thus were feared by the likes of me who never had an “11” numbered tegadaly relative (agot) but desperately wanted to have had one or form a kinship. Then came 1998 when being an Eritrean became a demarcated construction- my   most loved friends had to sell their stuffs to us and be deported back to Eretria. You don’t believe how startled I was to learn that my best class mate and friend that I had competed in Maths and English grades, new “creation” and “spirit” tracksuits and “Sandal Shoe”, that were all fashionable then, had to leave me forever. That was it. A full blow war began between Ethiopia and Eretria. Enmity embroiled me- I said the Eritreans including my own friend should be defeated- thanks to the media/ETV propaganda. We tuned to Eritrean radio, which honestly was full of lies (black propaganda they call it- the communication experts) and laughed. 

We spoke of the intrepidness of Ethiopians and the lousiness of Eritreans. The war ended, many died.  Ceasefire has been on up until this second. I also had completed university and began working in local papers. I had always assumed that I was one of the most informed, enlightened and well ahead than others, majorly because I worked in the information sector and my role was feeding the public on what was new. Eritrea was one of my expertise areas. This was the image I had of Eritrea, honestly, “a nation that is jealous of Ethiopia’s development, an enemy state that toiled to terrorise Ethiopia and Ethiopians. And the people so green-eyed of Ethiopians that they would do their best to damage any Ethiopian they meet”. This was the construction of a very young man who worked in the public information arena.  I had never thought that I would ever speak or dine with an Eritrean anywhere…because as I said they were what I described above i.e. wanted them for fistfight than roundtable. This misinformation, prejudice and stereotype of me created by the state owned propaganda media, ETV and public officials about Eritreans was found to be completely false when I arrived in Europe half a decade ago. In Europe I met many Eritreans who treated me, loved me, integrated me more than my compatriots would.  Although, I always asked my mate from Dire Dawa who lived in Europe for over a decade often saying “how can you be with the Eritreans? They are our enemies.” my seclusions didn’t last long as I came across first hand many untold stories of brotherhood, solidarity and sacrifices paid by Eritreans for Ethiopians and the vice versa in Europe.

The Musketeers 

Two cousins did us wrong

Ciao Asmera by Justin Hill, is a book written in 2002 by a volunteer aid worker. Justin narrates, when the Eritrean referendum was tabled to Eritreans, the English version read “Do you want Eretria to be an independent and sovereign country?” “No” was red and for those who couldn’t read a poster containing “Ethiopian soldiers with armfuls of skulls patrolled the perimeter of the poster. Their faces were fierce, their guns dripped blood. They bit cigarettes in their grinning teeth and cast lustful eyes over women. ” The Autor states, continued life in Ethiopia would be endless war-burnt villages, dismembered bodies. “Yes” was blue. It showed happy babies, fields of abundant wheat soviet-style images of peace and prosperity. The EPLF soldiers were showing them the Promised Land, Free Eretria. The result of the referendum was 99.81% voted independence from Ethiopia. A lady called Aster speaking to the Author says “Eretria will be like Singapore or Taiwan” p.18.

He then asks her if there were any Amharic loan words from the Ethiopians in the Eritreans language. “None” Aster said. “The Ethiopians had nothing to teach us”.  He then speaks to another lady called Semhar. After explaining about the good relations of Eretria and Ethiopia and their respective leaders since the independence, she says “In fact the two leaders are cousins”.  After the formation of Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) their offshoot EPLF leaders were then smuggled to China and were educated the thoughts of Mao, Justin says. 

Eritreans have been negatively indoctrinated about Ethiopians particularly about Amharas by EPLF during their over 30 years struggle for independence. They were made to view their own brothers as their arch foe enemies. That indoctrination still exists in Eritrea though at a milder level and specially geared towards the ruling party TPLF and its kinship. Since the border wars, likewise Ethiopians have been negatively indoctrinated about Eritreans and their government. The Meles regime brought up a generation that saw its closer neighbours as enemies than relatives and brothers. I was one of them. I don’t know how Ethiopians at home today visualise Eritreans compared to when I was there – as these days many Eritreans are returning back to Ethiopian claiming back their assets and joining universities.  But I remember six years ago writing to my friends at home urging them to change their misconceptions about Eritreans and how we lived in the Diaspora as one people.

Two cousins have possibly been the masterminds and perpetrators of all these miseries of the two nations and region. Infuriatingly, interest driven and gullible Western powers simply support and side with any existing regime that aligns with their interest not knowing or ignoring the role of history and kinship in the politics of the two countries and the region.  The two nations have a blood relationship and especially the two leaders Esayas Afeworki and Meles Zenawi are cousins. The fight is of cousins too. One of the two boys wants to show that the ethnic group he hails from is better and superior than the other and the vice versa with the other. That is the epicentre of the inherent politics between the two countries since the two years deadly war. Meles’ TPLF wants to prove that their region, Tigray close to Eritrea is better than Esayas’ EPLF Eritrea. A fight of ego, racial and ethnic superiority, and class fight of two intertwined ethnic groups and cousins. Millions out of these two ethnic groups suffer in-between. Meles’ TPLF region of Tigray and Esayas’ EPLF Eritrea  have been gambling just like neighbours where in one jobless “bitch” wanted to show her next door that she got all ‘the better-off‘ and she is much better than her. If Esayas walks and wants to act then it would be Tigray region that would be its first and last target. Meles’ home region is prone to the somewhat potent hands of its cousin.  As is Esayas too.Therefore, Tigary has been the focal point of Eritrea’s propaganda, political, economic, cultural and ‘historical’ target for so long now. EPLF accuses the Meles’ regime of disproportionately developing its home region than the rest of Ethiopian regions. Ethiopia’s rulers categorically rule it out.  But seriously, how have been the two ‘opposed regions’ been faring in the past few years?


Compiled from the Five Years (2010/11 – 2014/15) Growth & Transformation Plan of Tigray Bureau of Plan and Finance, Mekele, 2003 Ethiopian calendar.



  • ·         Up to 2010, an average of 11 % growth was registered every year. Thus, as compared to the growth rate achieved in 2002-2004 which was 10.01 %, there is a difference of 0.99 %.
  • ·         In the years 2006-2009 over 2 billion birr credit was given to the farmers who were involved in the food security package and to those who were engaged in micro and small scale enterprises to purchase some facilities by the financial institutions such as Dedebit and other corporate enterprises.
  • ·         According to the report of the 2007 housing and population census, the number of population of Tigray region was 4,314,456 and when we compare this with that of the 1994 census which was 3,367 million, the population of the region has grown almost by one million.
  • ·         Hence, 226,751 customers/ clients are able to use mobile phone and the mobile phone network covers 64% of the land. Similarly, over 153,374 customers are beneficiaries of the land line telephone and the coverage for wireless telephone is 90% which means one person can get a wireless telephone in every walk of 5 km.
  • ·         Eventually the coverage of potable water in urban areas has grown from 50% to 72% and in the rural areas it has increased from 41% to 60%.
  • ·         The gross enrollment rate in primary education has grown from 99.77 % in 2005 to 102.8 % in 2009
  • ·         the number of health centres has grown from 40 to 200 in the years 2005-2009
  • ·         In 2004 harvesting season around 1,023,246 ha lands was ploughed and was sown/ covered with different crops. In the last 5 years strategic plan 2005/6 – 2008/9, every year an average of 1,229,598 ha Land was ploughed and was covered with different crops. Thus, in 2004/5 harvest season 11.35 million, in 2005/6, 14.9 million, in 2006/7, 17 million, in 2008, 16.4 million, in 2009 19.6 million, in 20010, 34 million quintal was produced.
  • ·         In 2004 G.C, 15,045 ha land was irrigated and in the years 2006 – 2009, it was planned to irrigate 210, 000 ha land and out of this at the end of the year 2009, 83,000 ha land or 39.3 % has already been irrigated.
  • ·         Up to 2004, the campaign for soil and water conservation performed on farm land was 834,478 ha and by escalating this to 960,000 ha in the last four years (2005-2008), it was able to increase the coverage to 80%.
  • ·         The geological map coverage of the region has reached 46.2% and around 850 kg gold is already deposited in the national bank of Ethiopia.
  • ·         In Tigray region, up to the end of 2009 by constructing the sum of 1357km rural road and 1671 km main roads, it was able to connect all woreda centers with the main roads and with neighbouring regions as well. In 2009, the density of road at national level was 43km in 1000 km2 and the share of 1000 people was 0.57 km but, in our region, the density was 56km in 1000km2 and 0.69km for 1000 people and hence we can say that Tigray region is in a better situation.
  •            Industry and service sectors grew at an average of 9.5 and 13.2% respectively, between (2005/06- 2009/10). 
As can be read from the above records, Tigray region did outstandingly better and superiorly well than the achievements at the national level in many sectors. There has been no famine, hunger or even drought in the past few years in Tigray. There have been international experts, investments and developmental works of irrigation, agriculture and natural resource conservation works done in the region. The drought and hunger has shifted to the Southern and Eastern parts of Ethiopia now for the first time. Hunger is caused by neglect, lack of freedom/civil rights, absence of development works and repression, according to Sen and E.M. Young. Though, unavailable publicly, Tigray region has built three international standard airports, and a new air force base has also been built. Tigray as a region has one of the fastest growing economies in Ethiopia. The five year’s GTP of Tigray sets to double/achieve what was gained so far.

How did Eritrea fare in the past few years?

  • ·          Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at US$1.87 billion in 2009, for a population of about 5.0 million, of whom an estimated two-thirds live in rural areas (World Bank).
  • ·         The Economist stated that Eritrea would have a 17% economic growth in 2011, which will largely come from its lucrative mining boom. The report also highlighted Eritrea would open a newly constructed cement factory in 2011.
  • ·         Eritrea’s Economic Facts: |1| 2010: 6% Growth, |2| 2011: 17% Growth, |3| 2012: 7% – 12.5% Estimation Growth (depending on the different sources).
Eritrea Facts

2011 or latest Data


66 Year Average

Leads Sub-Sahara Africa

17% GDP Growth for 2011

Global GDP Growth Leader in 2011

67% Literacy Rate

Doubled Since Independence

0.8% or 25,000 with HIV

Nearly Declined by 50% 

55 deaths per 1000 births

2nd Lowest in Sub-Sahara Africa

280 deaths per 100,000 births

3rd Lowest In Sub-Sahara Africa



Eritrea and Tigray have approximately equal population, exhibit similar economic and social growth trends. Both Tigray and Eritrea discovered gold at around the same time. Minerals become the backbones of their economies. What one has done the other copies. A typical competition of two neighbours in Sebategna,Merkato, Addis Abeba. Although it is difficult to get direct statistical data from Eritrea, the nation is deemed to have been doing well so far on the economic front. As two regions of similar heritage, history, generic linage, culture, intermarriage, economy, population, language and mainly leaders of same family member; their rivalry has cost millions. When evaluated in detail (aside the 17% growth of Eritrea), Tigray region is an economic giant compared to Eritrea or even to other regions of Ethiopia.

From the above two evidentiary evaluations, it is easy to make out that there exists a hidden but fierce economic and power competition between the two regions “countries”- Tigray and Eritrea. Both are astronomically growing GDP wise, good for them. Alike their policies, the two leaders portrayed similar psychological and leadership characters; megalomania. They just couldn’t get off their high horses; still apply their 60s politics of bitterness. Both of them arrested, killed, persecuted and tyrannised those that were against them or critiqued them. Both have the worst records in terms of press, civil, political and freedom, human rights and justice. Both have their own “big” allies. While one sides with the most powerful, the other raises his iron against his baptisers.

The indoctrination of the mass of the two countries emanates from colonial and foreign powers influence and mission.  The two parties and cousins served as pipelines of deciphering and sawing odium between the two loving people.

The war and current animosity is mainly of two individuals full of ego and zero sum games. Unless these two people go; there will be no peace in that region. It would be centuries before these two contrarily indoctrinated, stereotyped and prejudiced people wash themselves and make up. Time when cousins and families used to rule nations is long gone. We don’t want kins to lead us. The current attempt of the international community to mediate the two leaders is also a dangerous move that could cost another regrettable miscalculation. Both are unelected dictators that came to power through the barrel of the gun and remain until today solely by it. For Western powers I say, there is no better evil. Rather the lesser evil is the worst one that will live long- siding with it is making a lesser evil live long to be the worst evil.  All evils are evils after all.  Two ethnically minded, bigoted cousins cannot offer us or the world or even Somalia a solution; they have been tested, examined, analysed, and exhausted; The two Musketeer Cousins  have to go NOW.  Their future peace deals, apologies or “economic achievements” could not patch up or solve their misdeeds and ruins they leave as their legacies. In a nut shell, the Horn of Africa remains a concern, unless otherwise these two scraps of history are entirely deracinated together with their ideologies and indoctrinations.

I see a top-notch generation of youngsters who are free from the long ingrained polarisation and hatred coming together. They will only clean the dust.



  1. A lady called Aster speaking to the Author says “Eretria will be like Singapore or Taiwan” p.18. Was Aster meaning Tigray.kkkkk? joking.

  2. this only some fact on the ground tigray is like taiwan or singapore compared to eritrea. the tplf is singly helping his people and tigray.

  3. In 1625 d’Artagnan, a poor young nobleman, leaves his family in Gascony and travels to Paris, with the intention of joining the Musketeer of the Guard.

    However, en-route, at an inn in Meung-sur-Loire, d’Artagnan overhears an older man making jokes about his horse and, feeling insulted, demands to fight a duel with him. The older man’s companions beat d’Artagnan unconscious with sticks and break his sword; his Letter of introduction to Monsieur de Tréville, the commander of the Musketeers, is stolen. D’Artagnan resolves to avenge himself upon the man, who is later revealed to be the Comte de Rochefort, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu, who is in Meung to pass orders from the Cardinal to Milady de Winter, another of his agents.

    In Paris, d’Artagnan visits de Tréville at the headquarters of the Musketeers, but the meeting is overshadowed by the loss of his letter and de Tréville refuses his application to join. From de Tréville’s window, d’Artagnan sees Rochefort passing in the street below and rushes out of the building to confront him, but in doing so he separately causes offense to three of the Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who each demand satisfaction; D’Artagnan must duel each of them in turn that afternoon.

  4. This is such a poorly sourced, researched, written, organized, argued, and presented article. I can not believe Jawar Mohammed posted it on his FB page. It is full of factual errors that one can not take it seriously even if one is able to make it past the disorganized writing that is also full of disparate and unrelated stories and information. Please, do not write for writing sake. At least, hold off until you are sure of your facts and definition of concepts like ethnicity, nation, state etc. If you can’t be sure, please indicate it. For example, anyone can easily find out that Isaias and Meles have no blood relations although they both have relatives in both countries. Then, the writer says they both lead different ethnicities which does not follow from his/her assertion on their familial relation. The fact is Isaias and Meles do not have different ethnicities. They both belong to the same Tigrinya speaking ethnicity that is on both sides of the border. Now, one can make a credibly solid case on the rivalry between the Tigrinya speaking people on both sides of the border and the two organizations (EPLF and TPLF) that have lead their political struggle since the 1970’s. The rivalry between Isaias and Meles is non- existent or extremely weak at best. Beyond the fact that Meles is of a different generation, he does not share the Superiority/Inferiority- complex some hard-line TPLF guys (like Siye Abraha) display in relation to Shaebia guys in the north. There are well researched books on the subject by such Professors as Tekeste Negash, Harold Marcus etc. Among the reasons are economic, organizational, as well as normal secession related complexities that follow from the coming about of a new nation. If such separations are not carefully handled and planned for, they can result in violent conflicts; which was what we witnessed in 1998.

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