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The Roll of The Mass- Media, in National Developement in Eritrea.

Postby Zmeselo » 29 Dec 2017, 20:21


The Role of Mass Media in the National Development of Eritrea

Simon Weldemichael

Adi Keih College of Arts and Social Sciences

29 December, 2017

Thirty nine years after dmtsi hafash (the voice of the masses) first broadcast was aired in January 1979 in a place called Fah, the voice of the masses of Eritrea is still the most prevalent, accessible, and flexible mass media available throughout Eritrea. During the strategic withdrawal, where liberation fighters left the gates of Asmara to Sahel, the voice of the masses of Eritrea aired a voice of perseverance and existence of the freedom fighters that was not heard before. During the struggle for independence, dmtsi hafash effectively countered and exposed the lies and propaganda of the Ethiopian regime. Through its accurate and timely information, it gained credibility and popularity; including behind enemy lines. Dmtsi hafash, was a conduit of information between the freedom fighters – the tegadelti – and the people.

The history of journalism in Eritrea, dates back to Italian colonialism. The publication of printed newspapers was initially started, during the Italian colonial period, to provide information about Italy; to glorify the greatness of Italy and to present the economic viability of Eritrea. The subsequent British colonization, granted freedom of the press, that encouraged the establishment of additional newspapers. In the 1940s, the press changed dramatically, to become a revolutionary and reconciliatory press. The corrective press, that helped to rest the democratic rights of Eritrea, was finally closed at the hands of Ethiopian colonizers in the first years of federation. In the mid-1950s, the printed mass media transformed and responded by organizing itself in very subtle forms, including through music and oral means. The struggle by the mass media, against the Ethiopian violations of the federation, was not limited to the domestic front. By the initiative of patriot Weldeab Weldemariam, a radio broadcasting station from Cairo, campaigned for mass mobilization. In the course of this struggle, the mass media effectively mobilized civil society, to protest against Ethiopia, that led to profound domestic political and economic instability.

Before the introduction of modern mass media, Eritrean society had developed a traditional mode of dissemination of information. With variations in efficiency and rapidity, each community devised a system of communication. Oral traditions, such as mase and awlo, were at times the sigh of the oppressed people and the masses could get information about global and local political developments. The printed mass media, the radio broadcasts from Cairo, and the oral traditions, played a great role in informing and inculcating the notion of independence and self-determination among Eritreans. Far from simple dissemination of information, they contributed a lot to bring about national unity and the feeling of nationalism. Thus, dmtsi hafash and various other magazines, produced during the liberation struggle, were built on the foundation of the 1940s and the 1950s nationalist journalistic activities.

National development, is a comprehensive and qualitative transformation that involves changes in the economic condition, social situation, and political disposition. In Eritrea, the focus of national development, is the people. Similarly, the mass media of Eritrea is not solely a commercial enterprise; rather, it’s a service aimed at guiding, informing and entertaining the people. The overall object of national development is human development which includes, amongst other things, enlarging people’s choices for greater access to knowledge and information, better nutrition, education and health services, greater security, and stability. Media has played a central role in winning our liberation and preserving our independence. Now, it has made a successful contribution to national development by performing many roles.

The Media’s function to act as a guardian of public interest and agenda setting, are among the most important roles of the media. Media can often determine, what to think and worry about. Media is a watchdog, that speaks for the people and represents the interests of the people. Media’s role in national development, can be analyzed from political, economic and social perspectives. In the political sphere, media’s role in raising political consciousness and public relations, is positive. In the economic sphere, media can play their role in advertisements and tourism. In the social sphere, media has an important role in combating corruption, ignorance, criminal violence, and health problems. For example, corruption distorts economic and social development. The media can act as a force against corruption, by exposing corruption. Television programs, such as “keysa’Erere”, the magazine “hzbn polisn”, the radio programe “dmtsi polis Eritrea”, and the law and society column in gazette, educate the society about corruption and provide strong incentives for changing behavior.

In many conflicts, we have seen media that works to inflame and exacerbate the conditions by over simplification, exaggeration and outright sensationalism, suppression or outright distortion of facts, bias, cultural insensitivity. Such actions not only make the media lose credibility, they also serve as an avenue for increasing conflicts. The media in Eritrea, be it dmtsi hafash, radio Numa, radio Zara, newspapers, TV programmes, and websites, have had an encouraging track record, in terms of avoiding such harmful practices. In fact, not only do they often present quality work, they also play a positive role in enhancing the national unity of the Eritrean society.

The western media, are often responsible for disseminating false information about Eritrea. The distorted information about Eritrea, generally fails to inform about the context or background to any event. They simply rush to tell their perspective, without presenting the causes or complexity of the story. Western media, along with other regional media outlets, have become, the convenient vehicles for blackmail and instruments of hidden agenda. Ruby Sandhu, an international human rights lawyer, has stated that,

“To date, the only narrative that is present in the Western press about Eritrea, is that of the NGOs, the politicized actions of the HRC and the activists, all of whom have never visited Eritrea.”

BBC journalist Mary Harper, who actually visited Eritrea, has also said

“Eritrea has a serious image problem, but if you work in the best of your abilities, beyond your humble and modest tradition of not bragging and on your own, you will definitely be able to portray [a more accurate account].”

Our media outlets should therefore increase, their efforts to tell, the complete story of Eritrea.

Eritrea’s independent, responsible and fair media is a revolutionary tool of liberation from colonialism, underdevelopment and it helps reinforce the national unity of Eritrea. Eritrea’s mass- media, is expected to be a development centered media, that presses for change. It is geared towards mobilizing the people for national development. Well-reported news about development is important, in stimulating further development. Journalists are also expected to recognize the importance of the media to development and to be committed to use their profession to impart knowledge and information, that will contribute to the development of the country. They must bring information, about the array of development projects conducted in every corner of the country. The journalist is not only to be an adversary, but also communicate information, education, instruction and inspiration. They must also provide context, background, and understanding about cause and effect.

Eritrea’s mass media, is often socially and morally responsible and the media have a moral obligation to society, to provide information for citizens, to make informed decisions. Our media is an alternative, to the profit motivated corporate media. It emphasizes the empowerment of people, with their active participation- not as passive listeners. During the struggle for independence, dmtsi hafash and other journalistic activities, were instrumental in exposing the tyranny and exploitation of Ethiopian colonial rule. Dmtsi hafash, had a force multiplying effect, that added to the combat effectiveness of military operations. Media coverage not only develops public awareness and the support of the military in operations, they also have the benefit of enhancing the morale of troops and the people. Dmtsi hafash was an offensive weapon, against our enemies.

The mass media continued to play a key and leading role in the struggle for the preservation of independence and national reconstruction. After independence, too, our media outlets are not only performing the traditional role of supplying the people with information about the daily events, but also assumed a responsive role of shouldering the burden of trust of our martyrs, by fighting an overzealous Weyane invasion. During and after the Weyane invasion, our mass media sustained an effective struggle against false information about Eritrea. Through extensive anti-distorted information articles, editorials, publications and broadcasts, struggled to preserve the true image of Eritrea. The content of the international news agencies, was strongly event- oriented and superficial, personifying and dramatizing events of the day. Western media agencies, produce and distribute messages to control the poor. The cultural imperialism and communication imperialism, sustained the superiority of the powerful countries and the dependency of developing countries. According to Farrar (1997),

“All the world can learn about world events is what New York, London, or Paris chooses to tell them”.

Currently, a few powerful countries are policing the world through media.

The global development initiatives are shaped in a way that largely benefits the developed nations, maintaining the peripheral countries in a continuous position of dependence by other means. When we look at the aid given by developed nations from financial, technological and military aid to loans and technical assistance, it is far from genuine support. The extent to which the mass media have assisted in reinforcing the western cultural, economy and military supremacy throughout the world, is also enormous.

Our mass media should challenge the notion of domination and provide an alternative narrative of truth and must be a national platform, that represents the cultural diversity of Eritrea. Eritrean media outlets distribute a message of truth, peace and development to national and international audience. They all present history and look for posterity, contribute to national unity and social harmony, serve as a voice for the voiceless, and prepare the people to play their role in national development. The radio, newspapers, magazines and television, must continue their focus on practices that are geared towards development, hard work, dignity, ethical governance and discipline, environmental and cultural protection, and general improvement.



Re: The Roll of The Mass- Media, in National Developement in Eritrea.

Postby Zmeselo » 30 Dec 2017, 04:58


5 Eritrea news storylines that defined 2017

By Bereket Kidane

The year 2017 was, in fact, a good year for Eritrea in terms of the peace and tranquility that prevailed in the country, the development efforts that kicked into a higher gear, the regional diplomatic and security alliances struck, and the calm that prevailed on its frontiers. Relations with the United States could be better but they have shown signs of improvement of late under Trump’s first year in office.

The following are 5 Eritrea news storylines that defined this past year:

TPLF Woes

TPLF, the minority regime of Ethiopia and archenemy of the Eritrean State, continued its free fall for much of the year and will stumble into next year with 2018 possibly being its last or next to last year in power. While it lost sovereignty and control of much of the country with most of the kilils becoming “no- go zones” for its federal Agazi troops, it continued to childishly blame Eritrea and Egypt for all of its self-inflicted problems.

TPLF’s senior leaders spent the final two months of the year in full-crisis mode locked-up in a closed- door meeting in Tigray unable to solve their predicament or make the hard decisions needed to save the country from balkanizing. The wave of ethnic violence targeted at civilian residents from other kilils horrified most Ethiopians and observers of Ethiopian politics who had never seen that kind of inter-ethnic killings, mayhem and incitement in Ethiopia’s history before.

At last, the consequences of TPLF’s lies, fabrications, falsification of data, malfeasance, kleptocracy, and incitement of ethnic hatred finally caught up to it in the year of 2017. TPLF’s future in Ethiopian state politics became perilous. Most political observers now see TPLF as a “lame duck” that won’t be around for very long.

A Shift in the Balance of Power in the Horn

At the height of its political influence in Washington during the Obama years, the TPLF used to routinely blackmail Arab and Asian countries that wanted to do business with Eritrea or engage Eritrea diplomatically, by telling them that it has the “green light” from the United States to attack Eritrea. It worked around the clock, to isolate Eritrea regionally and internationally through blackmail and threats, to countries aligned with the United States.

That all began to change around 2015, when India rebuffed the TPLF’s blackmail and ignored its temper tantrum, by inviting President Isaias Afewerki to New Delhi to participate in the India-Africa Summit, despite TPLF’s protestations. It continued from there, when President Isaias visited Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to sign economic and strategic cooperation agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite the TPLF’s complaints. KSA and UAE both ignored the TPLF’s temper tantrums and went ahead and engaged Eritrea, as a regional ally.

That trend picked-up steam in 2016 and accelerated in 2017, when Egypt was brought into the fold.

In January 2017, President Isaias explained that Eritrea had wanted Saudi Arabia to play an expanded role in the region, when it comes to addressing terrorism and instability in the region. Her pleas were not met with action, until the ascent of King Salman (now replaced by his son) to the throne, adding that King Salman’s strategic outlook in the region, is very much aligned with Eritrea’s.

In May 2017, President Isaias further explained that Egyptian-Eritrean ties were developing at a rapid pace in all sectors and that both countries were ready to strengthen their multi-dimensional cooperation.

Taking into account the political generational change going on in the Mideast, with young Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates looking to build their militaries by investing in their defenses and diversifying security cooperation agreements with countries in the wider region, that includes the Red Sea basin. Eritrea is poised to take advantage of the benefits of collective security, through the agreements it had signed with the rising Gulf Arab regional powers. Consequently, in 2017 as a result of the TPLF’s full-blown economic and political crisis, coupled with Eritrea’s security alliances struck with Gulf Arab regional powers, the balance of power in the Horn began to shift toward Eritrea.

Solar panels dot the landscape

2017, was a year in which solar panels started to become ubiquitous in urban and rural Eritrea. Solar power is Eritrea’s choice of renewable and long-term sustainable energy solution, as it has the immense potential to provide water supply to industry and agriculture. It’s been many years, since sovereign Eritrea said “yes” to the sun but in 2017 it became quite clear that solar is Eritrea’s energy future as the investment made in the sector, particularly in human resources, started to pay dividends.

Solar powered street lights, popped up everywhere in Asmara and became operational right away. Residents of remote villages; such as Ajerbeb saw small solar panels go up on their roof huts and turned out en masse to celebrate the arrival of electricity in their village. Villagers talked about how they no longer have to walk to the nearest town with electricity, to charge their cell phones or how their school children will now have light to be able to study at night and improve their grades.

A large solar farm was built at Adi-Halo, that can be scaled up to 4 MW and plans were drawn up to extend large renewable energy projects to the Gergera and Kerkebet dams, to pump water from gigantic water tanks to villages for domestic consumption and irrigation of crops.

Man-made fresh water lakes

Eritrea has plenty of “salt water” on its coastline but since desalination projects are very expensive, it has been constructing large artificial “fresh water lakes” and reservoirs, for industrial and agricultural use, as part of an effort to harness water from the many streams and rivers on the west such as Gash, Barka, and Anseba as well as smaller ones on the eastern part of the country, that extend from Karora to Assab and ultimately flow into the Red Sea or neighboring countries.

In 2017, the reservoirs at Gerset, Kerkebet, Gahtelay and Gergera, became so large that the question was what to do with all that water stored and how to get it to where it is needed for domestic use, livestock and agriculture. That is where solar power comes into play and becomes instrumental in the distribution, pumping and delivery of water to where it can be used. In 2017, Kerkebet alone stored 200 million cubic meters of water.

The goal is to distribute water from reservoirs like Gergera, to 30 or 40 kilometers away to places like Hazemo, Dekemhare and Korbaria and from Gahtelay to Massawa and surrounding area, so they can be used to meet water needs for industry and agriculture. In that effort, President Isaias explained, that Eritrea has only accomplished 20% of the work that is needed but has bigger plans for 2018 and beyond, relying on the accumulated knowledge thus far and experience of other countries, to make it happen.

These network of water dams and artificial lakes, have the added benefit of beautifying the landscape, in addition to increasing water supply to the country.

UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition

2017, brought us Eritrea’s first World Heritage Site listing. Eritrea’s capital city with its art deco architecture, palm-lined boulevards, bougainvillea covered villas, beautiful cinemas, espresso bars and opera houses was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Asmara boasts, one of the largest collection of modernist architecture in the world. Because of Eritrea’s coveted location on the Red Sea, it was always being invaded by different empires of the day that influenced its culture, religion and architecture.

If Asmara, an Italian-inspired city, easily met the ten criterion required for heritage status then one has to assume that cities like Massawa, Turkish-inspired, will also be up for nominations and declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the not too distant future, in addition to Qohaito and the ancient Port of Adulis, where amazing excavation work is going on, to unearth its former grandeur and importance as a transit point of trade between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.

The heritage status recognition will be crucial in raising funds for the restoration and preservation of Asmara, that should enable it to become the cornerstone of tourism in Eritrea. The same will hopefully be done, for the Ottoman urban culture and buildings of Massawa and other sites. In terms of Eritrea’s tourism potential, there are also the Red Sea islands with their pristine beaches and colorful coral reefs, that offer some of the best diving and snorkeling anywhere in the world. Scenic mountain regions, and historical landmarks of antique cultures of empires past.

When it comes to the tourism industry of Eritrea, the sky is the limit. If Eritrea plays its cards right, it can generate substantial amounts of income from the tourism industry in the coming years.

As I reflect back on 2017, it was indeed a good year for Eritrea. Looking forward to what 2018 has in store for our beloved nation. Happy New Year!



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