Views and Musings

Generally, views are understood as a particular way of considering or regarding something, while musings basically refer to a period of reflection and thought. Accordingly, “Views and Musings” is all about sharing various thoughts or comments on recent events or topics related to Eritrea, the surrounding region, and the world.

  • 1. Important points raised in the recent article, “Black Swan in the Horn of Africa”

If you have not done so, I highly recommend that you take some time to read Sophia Tesfamariam’s article, “Black Swan in the Horn of Africa”, which was published in the last edition of Eritrea Profile. The article basically explores the mainstream media’s poor coverage of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the surrounding region. For the most part, I found it to be a well-written, well-organized, and well-detailed article. It offers a number of thought-provoking points, presents an overall compelling argument and raises some important issues.

One of the most interesting points discussed within the article (and which other observers have also discussed) is about how wildly wrong the mainstream media have been in their analyses and general understanding of the Horn of Africa. This is generally along the lines of what I suggested in a separate article that I wrote several weeks ago where I noted: “as has become so abundantly clear in recent years, months, and weeks, the gaps and discrepancies between fact and fiction, objective reality and airbrushed image, are huge.” According to Sophia’s recent article, “when the recent revelations by the new Ethiopian government about the extent of human rights abuse and the large scale corruption which paralyzed the economy are juxtaposed with the coverage of Ethiopia in the same period, it becomes clear that the Western media had been anything but impartial and factual.” Indeed.

To add to the important points raised in Sophia’s article, it is very difficult to overlook the fact that so many of the analysts and observers who are now being shown to have been wide of the mark or clueless in their analyses of the region simply refused to consider alternative perspectives or differing opinions, many of which were shared by locals across the region. Over the years, as many local voices were ignored and differing perspectives dismissed, it has become quite apparent that only the views and perspectives of Western mainstream analysts and journalists – with their “commitment” to truth-telling, integrity, objectivity, and honesty – were to be treated as undisputable fact and truth and disseminated all over the world.

Finally, as I read the article and attempted to compare and contrast the Horn of Africa’s recent developments and current realities with the mainstream media’s longtime portrayals and coverage, I could not help but recall an especially memorable quote about the press and media by the iconic Black revolutionary leader Malcolm X. In an address he made during a visit to the Oxford Union in the 1960s, Malcolm X powerfully stated that “the powers that be use the press to give the devil an angelic image and give the image of the devil to the one who’s really angelic…[or] they’ll take a person who is a victim of the crime and make it appear he’s the criminal, and they’ll take the criminal and make it appear that he’s the victim of the crime.”

  • 2. Dimension Data cycling team manager lauds Eritrea’s great cycling prowess

With little doubt, cycling is the most popular sport in Eritrea. Although long distance running, football, and volleyball are enjoyed by many, the popularity of cycling cannot be matched. Eritrea has a long, proud cycling history. A number of different historical documents suggest that bicycles were first widely used in the country during the early years of Italian colonization. In fact, some local administrations made legal proclamations and passed guidelines that stipulated where and when residents could ride bicycles within cities. Prior to independence, Eritrean cyclists participated in regional and international cycling competitions, even attending the Olympics (although at that time they represented Ethiopia, which had forcibly annexed Eritrea). More recently, after independence, Eritrean cyclists have participated in and won many significant competitions around the world and their exploits have attracted much attention.

Today, Eritrea has come to be widely recognized as Africa’s cycling superpower, bar none. Recent comments by Douglas Ryder, manager of the Africa-based Dimension Data cycling team that has helped propel Africans into the top international races, attest to Eritrea’s great cycling prowess. Specifically, in an article published last week by the Globe and Mail, Ryder states that, “Eritrea is producing the best riders at the moment and the most consistent performers across the African continent. The sport is growing phenomenally there. Eritrea is the strongest cycling nation on the African continent; they’ve got absolute talent and they’re getting better.”

Ryder’s statement is a powerful one and Eritrean cyclists should be immensely proud of themselves and their numerous achievements. I genuinely hope that the year 2019 and beyond are all about “onwards and upwards” for Eritrean cycling. The country’s athletes, both male and female, are so talented and we should all continue to support and encourage them. Over the past several years, Eritrea’s cycling scene has seemed like a conveyor belt in a factory, producing one young, exciting cycling talent after another.

However, although Eritrea’s cycling results and successes – most recently its highly dominant performance at the inaugural Africa Cup cycling competition – demonstrate just how deep the country’s cycling talent is, we must not become complacent. We still have so much more to conquer and many more successes to achieve. Moving forward, I am looking forward to not just to our participation in large competitions, such as the Tour de France and the Olympics, but podium finishes and victories.

Thus far, much of Eritrea’s cycling success has been based on the sheer determination, strong will, work ethic, and talent of riders. It is exciting to think (although maybe “scary” for the competition), that as a nation we are still only scratching the surface of our massive cycling capabilities. With further commitment to professionalism and organization, as well as more investment in better facilities, sponsorships, and training programs we can ensure the continued growth and development of cycling in our nation and the maximization of our immense cycling potential.