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Read: Reading is a Secret University

Eritrean youths reading in Asmara

Read: Reading is a Secret University

Drs. Tsegezab Gebregergis, London, May 10, 2014


I have designated the title of this article “Read: Reading is a Secret University” because I believe that the act of reading the works of others establishes a constant dialogue and interaction between the reader and the author. In the process, the reader develops and sharpens an inquisitive and critical mind and gathers immense new knowledge and wisdom, which gives him/her self-confidence, patience, understanding, and self-control in dealing with others.

So my piece of advice to my fellow Eritreans and to my own children is this: Read in order to develop a reading culture and to accumulate new knowledge. For throughout history, knowledge has been – and is – the most precious capital for its possessor and for the society of which the individual is a member. I can thus assure my fellow Eritrean brothers and sisters that, armed and accompanied with knowledge wherever you go and whatever you do, you will certainly be crowned with success in your life. In other words, armed with scientific and historical knowledge, you are a great asset for your own country and to yourself.

I spend most of my time reading and researching

I spend most of my time reading and researching, assisting fellow Eritreans in need, and writing articles in defense of my country, Eritrea. For me, Eritrea is everything. For I know that a people without a county of their own are like birds without wings at the mercy of their enemies. I thus have a strong belief that Eritreans, irrespective of  their differences and anger with their government, must defend independent Eritrea and its people. It must be made abundantly clear that Eritrea belongs to the Eritrean people and not to the PFDJ government or its leader Issayas Afeworki, as some seems to believe. Consequently, Eritreans must be very loyal to their country and its people, irrespective of the nature of their government. If we don’t, one day we could be like birds without wings or a nesting-place. Is this what we want? The answer is obviously 
an emphatic no. For independent Eritrea is going to shine forever.

Having made the above remarks in passing, let me now dwell on the subject matter.

I read recently in Tigrinya (one of the Eritrean languages) a book bearing the title Codes and Bylaws of Eritrean Regions and Counties. Having read it, I decided to write this article in order to share my findings with my fellow Eritreans and others interested in the subject matter.

To my understanding, the principal and major purpose of this compiled book is to introduce Eritreans and non-Eritreans alike to the ancient written customary laws of Eritrea. The book is divided into nine chapters, each of which deals exclusively with the customary laws and linguistic groups of the different regions which comprise Eritrea today. The book was indeed written and put into practical use in 1884 and was updated three times: in 1650, during the reign of the Abyssinian King Fasiledos; in 1892, during the Italian occupation of Eritrea; and lastly, in the 1940s during the British military occupation of Eritrea (see p.207).

The book vividly shows how the people of “Medre Bahri”, (“land-by-the-sea”) were leading an orderly life under written republican types of customary laws. Codes and Bylaws of Eritrean Regions and Counties covers every aspect of social life in Eritrean society. These are customary laws designed by their authors to reflect the levels of social, cultural, and economic development attained by Eritrean society at the time they were written. The main theme and area of focus of the book is on perennial societal issues such as land rights, marriage and divorce, criminal offence, inheritance, and litigation issues.

This compiled book of Eritrean codes and bylaws is therefore a very important historical document to the Eritrean people and to Africa as a whole, just as the Magna Carta was to the English people. It is important not only because it helps us to understand the historical development of Eritrean society, but also because it also unearths and exposes the racist and false claims and teachings of many European “historians” and “anthropologists” regarding Africa: i.e. their dismissal of Africa as a “dark continent” inhabited by “primitive people” without a history of their own prior to European colonization.

Interestingly, Eritrean Codes and Bylaws was already in existence before Columbus “discovered” America in 1492 – at a time when Europeans were superstitious cave-dwellers who believed that Europe was the only inhabited region, and the centre of the universe.

It is therefore hoped that this 570-page book, Eritrean Codes and Bylaws, will be of special interest to historians and historical libraries, historians of customary laws of traditional societies, students, anthropologists, and researchers on Africa. What is more, at this critical juncture of Eritrean history, I believe the Codes and Bylaws of Eritrean Regions and Counties is a very important document for Eritreans from all walks of life to study earnestly in order to be able to judge whether or not, and to what extent, aspects of the customary laws devised by their forefathers could be integrated with the existing 1997 promulgated Eritrean law; or when and if a revised modern and democratic constitution is adopted for the new democratic Eritrea in the offing.

Finally, I must state that I was excited, exalted and proud to have read the book and learned that the people inhabiting today’s Eritrea were governed by codes and bylaws of their own long before the country was named Eritrea by the Italians in 1889, and when Europeans were at their lowest stage of historical development. I thus highly recommend reading this historical document and preserving it for this and future generation of Eritreans.

The book was compiled and edited by Zerayakob Estifanos, Woldemariam Abraham and Gerima Gebremeskel.

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Read: Reading is a Secret University Reviewed by Admin on 6:31 AM Rating: 5


  1. it's good that in Eritrea they are popularizing the reading mood..

  2. I am pleasantly surprised how this generation are doing so well in English. when I visit Eritrea about six month ago I came across many people that spoke English better than those Eritreans settled in the in the west for at list two decade or more. GOE and the department of education I tip my hat for a job well done.

  3. I agree with you Keria, but not those leaving the country with out consuming education,believing that they will later in life when they reached their foreign destination. By then it will be too late since they already wasted their time waiting to reach where ever they have their mind set and all the desire the have to educate them selves is already evaporated.Most of us thinking we helping our loved once in to letting them migrate where ever we may be,but I believe we are creating more damage to them than help.

  4. Yes Belainesh,we do more harm than help,when we support our friends and family members to exit the country. Besides where ever each and every one of us we may be living now,It is not what we dreamed of that it will be any way. I think it will be better for us to advice our loved once to stay home and develop our country and make it comfortable for this and future generation to come.

  5. I have some reading for all Eritreans, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Hopefully someone will keep reminding them we don’t have a constitution in Eritrea and PIA has been in power for over 22 years without being elected..

  6. #@Jigna

    why don't you take that document and kleen your A55 with it instead of bmbarding us 22 yrs in power and clap tarap garbbage !!!!!!

  7. Where Is Z CruiseMay 12, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Yes Kerya, I noticed that too. I visited couple elementary schools and it was joyfully to see those kids. I salute the parents for their dedication despite all the economical and financial burden they face daily. Most of the kids dress clean and well behaved.
    I give all credit to Eritrean parents.

  8. Have you done any to help those in need ? I am sure no is the answer. Those who help they don't make comments like you did. There would not be good parenting with out good GOVT,it is all chain reaction. Every one pays $0 for school.

  9. "Jigna"

    Very sad someone who calls himself Jigna asking us to read a UN document?
    Is reading UN documents how you acquired your title "Jigna"?
    Please let us focus on the topic at hand; you may talk of constitution when the Madote puts out a related article.

    If our children can't read, who is going to read the constitution to them? Education is good regardless if you are a supporter of PFDJ or not.

  10. The GOE's clear vision is investing in education is the most effective way of reducing poverty and education was always seen as the key to Eritrea success.Hence, I admired the GOE's faith, foresight, and the fiscal fortitude essential to educate citizens to keep Eritrea competitive in the globalized and knowledge-based economy of the 21st century. Kudos to GOE and co-investors, the parents.

  11. Jigna,
    ጸማምስ ሃደ ደርፉ፡፡ The UN can't even follow it's own charter or documents as we have seen again and again violated by the same organization that supposed to enforce it's own charter. Please read more as the article stated. Constitution doesn't create miracle, people (Eritrean) do!

  12. B.Adal buddy,
    The Adigrat "Jigna" is telling you that no education is needed for begarism. What you need to do is
    1) adjust your behind to Homocracy, paint your lips red and stand online with Human rights slogan on your hand at the gates of the UN, to gain some handouts at the streets of AidsAbeba.
    2) smash some oromo heads and .
    3) prepare more telts surrounding the country and disintegrate the neighbours to flee to Ethiopia, More Refugees are yummy to woyane:)
    4)smuggle those emptyhead refugees who ruin their country and stand online for unknown destiny and destroy their life halfway to endup in the ocean.
    Thats all about "Jigna's" Constitution-alla-woyane, which is the best way to milking the UN, my friend:)

  13. i have my small sister who graduate in accounting and a nephew who is in 2nd year of IT technology at Mai Nefhi. Both are good chaps, believe me what i thank is to all Eritrean people who eagerly help their Nation who built up a strong edu system, increasing the all the time the standard, and investing on its own People. This is true commitment of the ruling party and good governance despite what the liars say.

  14. Where Is Z CruiseMay 13, 2014 at 4:43 AM

    Keria, Your reply shows how you are as a person. You are just stupid. First of all you should wait until I give you an answer to your question. You asked me and your replied it yourself, and you were sure with your answer. That is funny! You don't even know me.
    Regardless my differences with the trolls like you, I always participate in book collecting program. I have collected hundreds of collage books in different occasions on behalf of the organizer. Idiots like you don't understand that there is a difference between HIGDF and ERITREA. Remember I also pay my 2%.
    I have a friend who does money transferring (Hawala) to Eritrea and guess what who her most customers are ? People like you "HIGDEF boot lickers". Hypocritical people like you send money illigaly to Eritrea to get 51 Nakfa for a dollar. On the other hand they criticize

  15. Where Is Z CruiseMay 13, 2014 at 4:45 AM

    They criticize people like me for criticizing the wrong doing of the government.
    You see Keria, try to think twice before you post to me.

    Have a blessing day!

  16. It is not that I have money to send,but my family don't need a dime from me they are OK on their own. It is true I don't know you but,I can smell you where coming from when you wrote "Economical and financial burden" It is like the fault of the GOE. Every where you go prices are higher than what it use to be, but what I like in Eritrea is the price is controlled by the GOVT,so no one can inflate the cost of merchandise and make it hard for citizens to shop. I hope it is true that you pay your obligation 2% and collect books for Eritrean students,but I doubt very much people with no love and recognition of GOE do those good deeds. Now what is your beef with the GOE ?

  17. Where Is Z CruiseMay 13, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Could it be you didn't read what it was written ? Hmmm ! Did I say economical and financial burden because of the government?? I didn't even mention about the government in my comment. Please don't make yourself stupid!

  18. Investing in education is the best way to bring prosperity.

  19. Tsegazeab,

    It is not the old times of which Eritreans are suffering as we speak. We have Glorious Past and we are proud of it; amhara and tegaru attempted and still are attempting to steal it by decimating our population but thanks to our Mighty EPLFs, we had managed to keep them at bay.
    However, since our glorious military victory in 1991 over our eternal enemies, the EPLFs have been effectively sidelined by the unscrupulous tigrai impostor Isaias Afewerqi, who has surrounded himself with tegaru , such as Hagos Kisha, Yemane Monkey, Yemane Gebremesqel, Abraha Kasa etc.
    Yes, the strategy of these tegaru and woyane is one and same but in order to divide Eritreans into warring factions, they have adopted diametrically opposite tactic of posing themselves as mortal enemies of each other on account of their love for Eritreans and Eritrea.
    I do not think it requires an analytic mind of a philosopher to understand that this diabolical tactic is bearing fruits. Juts look at Eritreans, instead of forging Unity against these tegarus, squabble with each other, not how best to fight them , but as their respective puppies. It is shame that the descendants of the Lions has become the playground of these qomalat.
    You are an embodiment of our abysmal shame. I remember the false testimony you gave over radio against Dr. Tewelde Tesfamariam in support of these home grown tegaru. You are just now doing the same by writing about our good past, not to educate us , because if you had that intention, you ought to have linked it with our current predicament, but in order to distract and evade , exactly, as these unscrupulous tegaru are doing. Again you should be ashamed.
    Genuine Eritreans,
    Where ever you are and whoever you may be, Wake up, Unite; do not fall to the machinations of Isaias Afewerqi and woyane. Do not ever think that they are enemies; they are two faces of one coin. Do not watch their sweet mouths and their accusations and counter accusations of each other, they are all illusions, meant to mislead and deceive you. Rather, watch the devastations they have brought over our country and people.
    Isaias Afewerqi accuses sanctions, USA etc. for the current economic and social catastrophe transpiring in our country .But remember, falsely scapegoating some one for his crime has been his modus operandi since he joined ELF in 1966.
    The mother of all the crisis we have been going through has been spawned by the illegal and unnecessary war he, Isaias Afewerqi, purposely launched against Ethiopia. If he were honest Eritrean leader, he could have sought the solution in the offices of the OAU and UNSC. He did not because he had ulterior motive to get rid of the ratified Constitution and Senior EPLF officials in the name of National Emergency and with it the demise of our country and people. Just look what he has done since.
    to be continued....

  20. I don't think you remember what you already wrote,look @ the above"Wrong doing of the Govt" "higdef" who the heck are you to criticize the govt ?despite the rocky years we had and our hands been tight behind,unable to excersise our freedom to the fullest the govt are doing well,as a matter of fact better than those countries freed from colonialism many more years than ours. Again what is your beef with govt?

  21. no country for young menMay 13, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    well said brother
    some one said this to an Eritrean old man that syee abraha is from tenmben and he doesn't like Eritreans and the old man shoots back issayas is from tenmben too he also doesn't like Eritreans.

  22. Qarsa Adey NafiqeMay 13, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Are they reading MILITARY BOOKS? The world knows that there are no schools( high schools) in Eritrea. There are only military schools( SAWA et al).

  23. I have a SURPRISE to you: Wedi Vacaro has a Tigraian root too. Do your researches and then come back to tell your results to me.

  24. You are the one out of your mind. What thick's me off is when you said "you give all credit to Eritrean parents" my answer to you was it is all chain reaction,with out good govt,there would not be good parenting, education is free for all,it it is free for all who makes this happen parents or govt ? I will ask again for the last time what is your beef with the govt ?If you can't answer this two question, It is obvious you are not genuine.

  25. Eritrea is not a country for a lazy man,that is why you living some where,so you can have life on a hand out. It took many years to migrate where ever you may be,now that you there the dream land you had in mind,it no where in sight. Instead blaming your self for mistake you made on your decision, you blaming the president. The president hand you the so called freedom, now it was your turn to make the new Eritrea the way you would like it to be,but instead doing so you chose the easy way,to beg.

  26. Where Is Z CruiseMay 14, 2014 at 5:42 AM

    What kind of BS you talking about?? It is not a new thing education is free. Education is free in almost all nations in the world. Education was free during Derg. What is a big deal about Education is free you repeating 100 times?? Do you want me to praise the Government??

  27. no country of young menMay 14, 2014 at 6:21 AM

    Almaz fezaz
    Eritrean martyrs gave us the freedom not individual mafia ,but the one thing you right about is "the so called freedom" , in reality there is no freedom in Eritrea,keep on the disrespecting the martyrs for the love of of one man,if you do not get it by now you will never.

  28. Tsegezab GebregergisMay 14, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    Esquirel, Please explain to me and other readers why you stated that Wedi Vacaro has Tigrian roots. In other word, could you please be more specific and forward some tangible evidence to support your assertion.
    Thank you very much.

  29. Tsegezab GebregergisMay 14, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    As to the unfounded, unconstructive and disparaging remarks Dawit Meconen has made in response to my article. I will just ignore it. For he does not deserve an answer.

  30. Tsegezab GebregergisMay 14, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    I am very much interested in your claim that Wedi Vacaro has Tigrian roots. So please do explain and elaborate to me and other readers why you stated that Wedi Vacaro has Tigrian roots. In other words, could you please be more specific and forward some tangible evidence to support your assertion.
    Thank you very much.

  31. no country for young menMay 14, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    some one said this,lies do not fix things.they don't even make things easier,at least not in the long to tell the truth and clean up the honest mess.Truth fears no challenge, are you telling the truth or you just deceiving yourself?

  32. Tsegazeab,
    Stand up for the Eritrea and Eritreans instead for few tegaru con artists, Isaias Afewerqi, Hagos Kisha, Yemane Monkey, Yemane Gebremesqel, Abraha Kasa etc.
    By the way, I am not singling them out because they are tegaru but because they have betrayed the trust Eritrean people placed on them. Recall, Tedros Adhanom, the current Foreign Minister of Ethiopia was also born, raised and educated in Eritrea but he has chosen to openly serve Ethiopia against Eritrea , I do not despise him as much as I do to these wolves in sheep's clothing.
    Any one from anywhere who stands for our country and people in war and peace, I salute him/her and openly accept. My criteria is simple, unconditional allegiance to the Sovereignty of Eritrea. I do not discriminate based on descent.
    Open your eyes and mind to the devastations these traitors have been inflicting on our country and people since the advent of Independence.
    Do not be mislead by their evasive tongues which purposely utter false speeches with impunity in order to deceive and mislead our people.
    Didn't you hear him, Isaias Afewerqi, referring the Ethiopian-Eritrean War as Woyane invasion in spite of the fact the Ethiopian-Eritrean Claim Commission branded him that he started the War and that he signed the verdict and accepted to pay $ 1000,000.00 dollars for indemnification?
    Don't you hear him justifying his repression and tyranny on woyane's occupation of our land in spite of the fact that he had no plan to liberate the occupied land Militarily?
    In fact, when woyane forces crossed into Eritrea 18 miles deep two years ago, he did not move in defense. What does that show you? His stated premise for his prolonged tyrannical rule has nothing to do with the survival of our country but with its destruction. They are all evasive tactics to blindfold the people into their demise.

  33. Sheabia, what does Eritrean history have anything to do with the rest of Africa? We don't even relate, except with north-ethio, north sudan and north africa. And have Europeans really been racist on Eritrean and nothern Ethiopian history???!!! NOOOOO! I've read some of those, and they are written in very high regard. It is almomst too much.

    They putting dirt in our society saying this and that Afircan history and dark continent and bla bla.....this is not the sentiments of our culture that I was bred with. At the same time, we cannot give away what's our to other socalled africans and also take their birden on us - that is just not right. MADOTE AND SHAEBIA: STOP CHANGING AND DESTROYING OUR CULTURE.


  34. "Interestingly, Eritrean Codes and Bylaws was already in existence
    before Columbus “discovered” America in 1492 – at a time when Europeans
    were superstitious cave-dwellers who believed that Europe was the only
    inhabited region, and the centre of the universe." This is written by a serious journalist. You're putting hate in the youth of our era. Shame on you!

  35. You no worth discussing any. you are like a one way street.True you may not pay for your children to go to school,but school board taxes either you own a property or rent it is tacked in it,but not in Eritrea. The govt of Eritrea can do with out any praise that comes from an ignorant person like you. I have been reading your writing here there, you seems to share the same symptom as those who broken the law of the land or who have sponsored their loved ones to skip the national service from performing their fare share,as they run away,either they got caught put in prison,or died along the way like many others before they met their sponsor. If this is the case you can write all you want re- GOE it wan't help you relive your guilty. What I suggest is to seek a psychiatrist help. You dig your own grave,and you turn around blame the govt. I have no more to say to you,If I where you from now on,I stay away from the computer and spend my time doing prayers at the Mosque/Church while taking medication.

  36. who lead the war to succeed hatenka teru,With out the intelligence of the honorary PIA, you would still be under Ethiopian colonization you idiot. now you want him to build Eritrea also with same people got you independence. It is you turn young man to fallow the foot step of your elders,or you want him to hire help from abroad like Dubai. wake up we are poor we can't afford foreign help.I will believe you if you say there is no freedom in S.Sudan,C.A.R,Iraq.Libya,Syria,Ethiopia....In Eritrea 24/7 you can do any and every thing your heart desire.

  37. Can some one explain to me,either wedi Vaccaro or any one else for that matter, what can they be able to do that the PIA is not doing.

  38. no country for young menMay 14, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    you should wear heavy earrings to help your empty head from floating,your god namely issayas he can't even wipe his mouth forget building a are small minded or his cousin ether way you aren't Eritrean but hegdefawit,talking about Eritrea leave it for Eritreans,you are busy worshiping a stay out of issue it does not concern you,your only concern should be the well being of the dictator.

  39. I feel sorry you poor creature with no brain,you live on a belo belo news and you feed on hand out, how long this will last,you soon be old an unable to help your self, once the hand out stop what you going to do?reach out for the garbage can.You hattela hookoye.

  40. #@ eri
    I wish you take out your head out of your A55!!!1

  41. Where Is Z CruiseMay 14, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    You knuckle head, I don't think you know Eritrea. If you want to avoid property tax, go to the moon or mars. Like every other country, there is all kind of taxs in Eritrea. People even pay TV fee (for owning TV). What is the 2% we pay??? If you don't k ow what it is, then let me tell - it is called TAX.
    Do you know what is the tax for importing a 4 cylinder car?? $5000 !!!
    Please go back there with your kids if you think it is better there.
    Lekbatt, hasawit

  42. Take my head out of my A55?????!!! You call that an argument?????

  43. One thing I can't stand is when an ignorant person like you thinks knows it all. I don't know what part of the world you live in, but you have no clue what really goes on. (1)In Eritrea you don't pay cable fee. The tax you pay is to cover for entertainment expense purpose,which is less than 10 NK a month, that is 35c euro comparing to $100s you pay per month in the west.(2) The $5000.00 is tax you mention is basically not encourage citizens to bring cars in to the country,in order to prevent traffic jams and pollution. If there was not that kind of tax the country would have been a grave yard for all the old cars that has been coming.As a matter a fact they should double that amount. (3) you pay 2% tax ?kkkkkkkkkkk then your mother must be a virgin.You are very sick person you should take my advice to seek professional help. You are not genuine!!!!!!


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