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Is this the identity of one of Eritrea's most iconic images?

Photo on the left: Picture of Lemlem in Afabet, Eritrea in 1988. (Credit: Jenny Mattews) - Photo on the right: Lemlem decades later

Updated: 12 March 2014, 6:25 EST: It has been confirmed by someone who knows Lemlem very well that these two images are of the same person.

Is this the identity of one of Eritrea's most iconic images?

Are these two women the same person? An a man with the Facebook account "Hello Eri-Unity" seems to think so. He posted this image the other day in connection with International Women's Day after claiming the lady on the right is the iconic EPLF fighter named Lemlem..

But is this really Lemlem?

The physical similarities are certainly there. Her nose, lips and even the small bags under her eyes appear to match that of the younger Lemlem. And assuming Lemlem was in her late 20s or early 30s when this image was taken (1988), then it becomes plausible to believe the Lemlem on the right would be in the same age group as her today.

The few information we did receive from people claiming to know the woman on the right came from two Eritreans on Facebook. They claimed the woman's name is Lemlem and she lives in Sweden. But when these individuals were asked to provide a last name, none of them seemed to know it. Granted, it's not unusual to know someone and not know their last name, but it does leave room for much skepticism.

One doubt that comes to mind is if this is really Lemlem, then how was she oblivious to all the attention she was receiving? Ever since Jenny Mattews had taken her image in Afabet in 1988, Lemlem's image has been reproduced in newspapers, magazines and on the cover of Matthew's book, “Women and War”. More recently, after observing her image and becoming curious about her story, Diallo Hall, an American economist, started Eritrea's first ever “trending topic”on Twitter: #whereislemlem? He also had his friend, Barry Malone, write an article about her for Retuers in 2010 titled "where is Lemlem?".

Perhaps Lemlem was aware of the attention her image had received but didn't want to share her story with strangers? It isn't uncommon for people who were in the struggle wanting to leave that part of their lives in the past. So if that's what she and her family chooses, then we should respect it. But if Lemlem is okay with sharing her story, then the Eritrean community in Sweden should make an effort to contact her.

After all, Lemlem's iconic image isn't just a brave woman sacrificing herself for her country. Her image came to symbolize women's rights and gender equality. Her defiance of outdated cultural values of what a woman's traditional roles in society are supposed to be helped pave the way for women after her to be treated as equals. And that is a story we must never forget to share.

Related reading: Beni-Amer boy: Eritrea's most iconic image

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Is this the identity of one of Eritrea's most iconic images? Reviewed by Admin on 7:31 AM Rating: 5


  1. i'm not sure if this two are the same but hey who knows but i love the pic

  2. That is one sexy warrior! Here is more of Eritrea's sexy warriors.

  3. I guess Robel could help us to solve the issue, as he is Journalist over there the image is an Icon. Anbessa

  4. Thanks Madote for bringing this photos on our website. I think the photos much very well.
    I am 100% sure this picture is well documented in the Eritrean video documentary film in 1988, and she is an EPLF fighter. I am very happy to know her name is Lemlem. Her photos was being stolen and been abused by the woyane juntas to post comments. I hope her photos will not be anymore used.
    Thanks Madote!!

  5. It appears to be her. Just look at her upper lip. It has a unique heart-like shape to it that is identical with the picture in black and white.

  6. Yes she is lemlem she iives with her son in Sweden. thanx for stupid pfdj she left her country afeter she lost her jigna husband @ miningles etio- Eritrea war.

  7. What if she is not one of those "nihna nisu nisu risina" ? I knew she is not 2% but 100%(Gual Sahley)!!!!!!!!

  8. I didn't know there was a Barentu in Tigray?

    The woman pictured here is a woman with a great sense of humor and does live in Sweden. Whether its her or not, I can't speculate. What I do know is her son attended pro-Eritrea demonstrations in Sweden against Ethiopia and enemies of Eritrea (that's you, loser).

    So you illiterate Tigrayan refugees who are entering the west claiming to be Eritreans need to go find a hobby besides lying about Eritrea online. Lying about Eritrea and Eritreans will not feed your starving people. Lying about Eritrea will not end 1.6 million Ethiopians who flee Ethiopia each year (the biggest exodus of people in Africa).

  9. You're the same "rora" from Tigraionline who bashes Eritreans while praising your people, Tigray. You're as Eritrean as Mengistu Haile Mariam is. Just yesterday, 42 Tigrayan refugees drowned off the coast of Yemen, shouldn't you skinny tigrayans be having a hazen for them?

  10. You are a lair!
    I know her very well as EPLF fighter and after independence. She didn't left Eritrea because of her Hero husband passed away to defend Eritrea sovereignty. She is very,very brilliant and courageous well known hero as her mothers. She was a business woman with good in come in Eritrea. She was doing well in Eritrea too. She left the country legally for the reason, her son to get better education in Sweden, just few years ago. She is one of the most welcomed person, if she returned back home too.
    One day you will be judge by your comments. A lair is a liar!

  11. You are always here to judge people within your own naked "empty" perspective. Why don't you represent yourself ?Why should you care and concern so much about others rather than yourself? Is that your job? Are employed to do that? Why don't you respect yourself and others? Who are you by the way? I wish you will respond to my questions!!!!!!

  12. Thank you Zewedi for your insight. I was told a similar story from people who say they know her. They described Lemlem as having a good sense of humor and as an ardent patriot.

  13. I am not judging any one, you did not know if i knew her do you? I think it is in real eritreans blood to care for others, at list thats what my parents which ate "hamli rijla" unlike others who fill their head with Pepsi thought me to. Wedehanka.

  14. Come on Madote you only listen, what you want to hear.

  15. The main problem of you is that you can not understand even what you have written. Very emotional and disturbing lady.

  16. I will not come down to your level and argue, "Setai pepsi".

  17. You don't need to do that because you are not normal.
    Setait Sewa

  18. This Barentu character is obviously lying. I have talked to four people via Email and Facebook that claim they know Lemlem and their stories of her align with Zewdi's.

  19. Be that or this--she is a HEROINE who sacrified her youth for the oppressed ones.
    She will be respected and "adored" like adey Mariam.
    Those who are palying around with her Pics will pay the price dearly.


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