Nationalism, Nation and Country: A Random Facebook Discussion

This was extracted from my facebook post of 24/02/2017 and the followed discussions(24/02 – 26/02/2017). I found it interesting to share as it has touched many areas covered. Thanks to Zaki Zerom for allowing me to use the materials we discussed in this blog. I have used synonym names for the other participants. 

Facebook Post:

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war. Sydney J. Harris

Discussion that followed

Zaki Zerom

“What it does ” is the phrase I am having problem with. Who is “it”? The government or the people?


I like the saying. I consider the avoidance of needless war the highest proof of true love for your people.

Ezana Caleb

I wish if you can stop preching your old and unadjusted political believe. Sometimes i wander why people like you become blind to see and accept the reason of suffering of human beings.

Nationalistic ideologies is what we need now to restore world order. Multiculturalism and Patriotism are the main reason of human suffering d all over the world. These are the reason:

  1. Multiculturalism, created fertil land for Islamic ideology to disturb our peace. (See what muslim terrorist are doing all over the world)
  2. Patriotism is the fact and base behinde of almost all oppressive governments. ( See almost all governments came by revolution including Eritrea).

There for please be fair and kind for all humans.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

[To Ezana] I think you must be the last person to speak about all human being as your political stand(Agazian Ideology) testifies.

Have you ever wondered what Social Nationalism is all about? If you don’t google it but it is exactly what you are preaching for. It is Social Nationalism that gave birth to Nazi. Hope you know what is the iceberg of Nazism.

Another thing: you are blindly guided by Hate of Islam – hence Islamophobia centric. It says a lot about you on your stand against humanity.

Zaki Zerom

Our fight is not with people of other countries but with our own dictator. Call it nationalism, patriotism or any other term you like, just try to find the ingredients that could bring the different segments of our society together. Finding the common sentiments of belongingness for each other the land we hail from. Cherish our values and love one another. What is bad about this?

Tesfabirhan REDIE

The ingredients that I believe could bring us together:

  • Let’s fight for Eritrean people’s right to live – Our Rights as human being to live
  • As we don’t have a constitution -at least lets be guided during the transition period by Universal Constitution – which can help us as a guiding principle.
  • Let’s fight for our democracy – under the principle of “From the people, by the people, to the people” – hence lets be guided by Democracy to fight for our people’s rights
  • Lets know our people need Constitution, not rule of the jungle
  • Let’s acknowledge Eritrea is an already existing and sovereign country, like any other country with all its combined values and its own history; be it good or bad – it is all our history. One may respect the good or the other might deny the bad. But at the end, all are just history. We live neither in the past nor in the future but at present. At the same time, we look in the past to learn and we project it as an experience for the future not to repeat the mistakes.
  • Let Rule of Law be our guidance.
  • Let our wisdom shine our much we value justice and are blessed by our practice on our fellow human being.
  • To defeat the regime, lets use all available tools – our people, the International community, inside and outside Eritrea, violent and non-violent, all tools that can get rid of the dictatorial regime. Lets ally with all forces that fight against the regime.
  • Let’s believe that each entity of Eritrea is living together on its will, a kind of mutual aggrement,, a kind of referendum, or engagement based on wills, not by force, not by history, not by blood, not by ethnic, not by origin, whatever it is, but just by mutual aggrement. This belief will help us to respect the choice of the other fellow.
  • Always, always, let’s remember our guidance is our sovereign country.

Zaki Zerom

You keep saying “let’s” , Let’s ….who is included here? Isn’t that all we are talking about – to be able to define the “let’s”

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Ok, I will be very friendly with you as you seem to miss what “let’s” stands for:

Let’s -contraction of let us: used to express a suggestion, command, etc, by the speaker to himself and his hearers.

Does it make sense now?

Zaki Zerom

Lol Tes. Sorry if my comment wasn’t clear but I wasn’t asking you to tell me about the contraction of “let us”. I was asking if the “us” in “let’s” refers to “all Eritrean people”.. Reading through your comment, I just felt like your usage of “we” and “us” assumed that we already have unity amongst us. But please, disregard my previous comment.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Regardless of our unity on purpose, we are united as Eritreans. This is what is most important for me.

We, or us stands for Eritreans – no less no more.

Zaki Zerom

In order for us to say “we”, we must have a common purpose – and our common purpose should not only to remove the dictator but also to build a nation. ….and a nation can only be created and build through nationalism. Well, you got my drift.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Lol. nationalism never created a nation in history. Basically someone is a nationalist hence, nationalism, because the nation already existed. Nationalism is nothing but blind submission to the already existing nation and align all forces to follow the same line as defined by the nationalists according to what they think a nation is.

Well being my take. I will repeat, regardless of our purpose, no matter how awefully we do, Eritreans are Eritreans.

Ok, according to nationalists definition, what I am saying is a myth. As a nation belongds to those who only obey or worship what the nation stands for according to their views.

Suppose, according to One Nation Movement nationalist beliefs, if an Eritrean does not respect the Martyrs, he doesn’t belong to the Nation called Eritrea.

This is what it makes me unsleep whenever I see nationalists popping up day in, day out.

Zaki Zerom, lets have a wider and liberal definition of what a nation stands for.

Zaki Zerom

I don’t think you are reading the word “NATION” properly.and the word Nation-al-ism.

Zaki Zerom

I think you are confusing country with nation. Several nations can be created within one country.

Zaki Zerom

In your earlier post, you listed seven definitions of a NATION. Having seven definitions shows that it can have different contexts. I know a lot of times a nation and a country are used interchangeably but the sociological definition of a nation is what i am talking about here. In general, a country can always be a nation, but a nation is not necessarily a country.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

haha, I think you are a sociologist. Your reference says a lot. It is sad to speak about imagined community when we are talking about real society, the society of Eritrea.

Anyway, Don’t go that far, thanks to wikipedia, I will give you its definition

On Nation: Nation

Tesfabirhan REDIE 

Well, lets see the definition of a nation then:

  1. A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.
  2. The territory occupied by such a group of people: All across the nation, people are voting their representatives out.
  3. A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language
  4. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) an aggregation of people or peoples of one or more cultures, races, etc, organized into a single state: the Australian nation.
  5. (Sociology) a community of persons not constituting a state but bound by common descent, language, history, etc: the French-Canadian nation.
  6. body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own.
  7. Nation inhabitants of a country; a community of men or animals; the people of the earth, collectively [Source: The Free Dictionary]

Unless you are bringing a new definition of a nation, I don’t think what you are saying is true.

Zaki Zerom

Man, don’t be arrogant about this brother. I will suggest you read this on the subject

Imagined community

Tesfabirhan REDIE

haha, I am not. I am just copy and paste what I got. I am not but the facts that I am bringing might be arrogant by themselves brother. Facts gives a pain.

By the way, why you brought a reference that starts with a title, “Imagined”.

I think I can learn then a lot from your previous post.

Lets speak on facts not imagined one.

Zaki Zerom

Do all the seven definitions you listed necessarily refer to a country? Absolutely not.

To give you an example:

Before independence, Eritrea was a province of Ethiopia, and a nation
After independence, Eritrea became a country and a nation.

Do you see the difference? The NATIONHOOD was there long before independence.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

If you have the eyes to read, everything is given.

But let me be again kind for you:

A country –

  1. A nation or state.
  2. The territory of a nation or state; land.
  3. The people of a nation or state; populace
  4. The land of a person’s birth or citizenship
  5. A region, territory, or large tract of land distinguishable by features of topography, biology, or culture:
  6. (Human Geography) a territory distinguished by its people, culture, language, geography, etc
  7. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) an area of land distinguished by its political autonomy; state
  8. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the people of a territory or state

[Source: Country – The Free Dictionary]

How about now.

But when have read this, please check what you wrote.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

Ok, if it is from socilogical point of view, that is only one aspect but yet it is incomplete.

One Nation Movement is not a socialogical movement, it is a supposed to be “political”.

But if you are refering socilogical, becareful, there is what is called “Social Nationalism” – which has given rise to Nazis.

Take care what definition you take brother.

Words matter.

Zaki Zerom

Oh my god, SMH

what do you understand about this Nations within Nations

Tesfabirhan REDIE

I feel very sorry.

Let me bring some materials from the reference you brought.


An imagined community is a concept coined by Benedict Anderson to analyze nationalism. Anderson depicts a nation as a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group.[1]:6–7

Anderson’s book, Imagined Communities, in which he explains the concept in depth, was first published in 1983, and reissued with additional chapters in 1991 and a further revised version in 2006.

The media also creates imagined communities, through usually targeting a mass audience or generalizing and addressing citizens as the public. Another way that the media can create imagined communities is through the use of images. The media can perpetuate stereotypes through certain images and vernacular. By showing certain images, the audience will choose which image they relate to the most, furthering the relationship to that imagined community.

Can I ask you one question please

“How long have you been outside Eritrea?”

I am afraid now One Nation Movement might have the same approach.

It is shame, really shame.

Zaki Zerom

If you continue arguing on this, i am going to take your bajela away and send you to back to high school. Seriously, this shouldn’t even be a subject of discussion.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

I am ready to give you. I am now very confident to lecture you on this subject. Lol

I am an engineer, but now I will be a sociologist. By the way, I like sociology.

Zaki Zerom

Now I see the problem with you. You are trying to apply the laws of physics on society completely ignoring feelings – sentiments,

Sentiments matter!

Tesfabirhan REDIE

  • Haha, I use law of physics often when there is an action, hence I react.
  • And I use also dynamics, if people are trying to keep my eyes closed.
  • In addition, I use thermodynamic principles to absorb the heat generated.

You see, physics helps.

By the way, why you are giving me a book available at amazon?

I can not wait and buy in order to argue with you. Anyway, let me provide you some material on “The Nation within a Nation”.

I read about three paragraphs and I think your reference again has a flaw.

Meaning of Nation and Nations

We are not talking about black community. We are talking about Eritreans.

Zaki Zerom

If the afar, the kunama, the bilen ethnic groups do not have any sense of belonginess to the tigrigna group and to each other, there will not be any Eritrean Nation – and therefore no country called Eritrea.

Tesfabirhan REDIE

I think none of these are fighting to have their own nation. They all believe on One Nation called Eritrea.

But there are severe and justified grievances that is forcing them to fight for an Autonomous state within the unified Eritrean naion.

Afar – for example, have formed state in Exile – called Eritrean Afar State in Exile-EASE. Recently (2016) they had a very eye-opening gathering. Their objective is not to have Afar country, but if things continue to worsen and no solution is found for their grievances, they can go to the extreme choice of struggle[emphasis mine]. Afar State in Exile are fighting for justice, like any other Eritrea, but they also have an objective that extends into forming an Afar Autonomous state.

For more details read Our Mission at their official website

In 2007, I have visited Assab and on my way, I got a chance to visit known Afar towns along the Red Sea. What I saw there is really worrisome. I have witnessed through my eyes that the Afar people were prohibited to fish even for their own daily home consumption, let alone to sell in the local market. Forget about taking a boat and sail(because they are suspected of crossing the sea – smuggling business), as they used to do throughout their life.

The same is true with Kunama – Kunama are native people who are treated badly – the worst, by PFDJ regime. I fully support their struggle.

For Bilen, so far, there is no movement except cultural. But there is a very strong cultural rehablitation movements. I hope we [I am a Bilen] will preserve our culture for generations to come.

But on the struggle against PFDJ, Bilen are fighting with anyone who opposes PFDJ without forming a unified one ethnic centered party (which shows their unifiying power).

Therefore, let’s not fabricate unfounded scenarios.

The only movement that has openly standed against Eritrean Nation so far is Agazian Movement (and check here too).

There is some conspiracy of Union with Ethiopia movement but I believe it is fictional or some wishful thinking, at least for the moment.

My Political take

I will fight for Kunama, Afar and now Akeleguzay people to make their dreams true. I believe on strong regions which can govern themselves under one Nation called Eritrea.

I believe on Decentralized Govenment, hence States – which have their own internal Administration System. I am against the Centralized Administration system which is now used by PFDJ rule.

Equally I believe on United Sovereign Eritrean territory of 1890.

Though I am not sure whether belongness is a correct political term or not, I believe that there are very strong and common binding factor:

1. The nation – Eritrea
2. Soverign territory
3. History – our common and shared history since 1890, including the final Border Agreement of 13 April 200283-195_border_agreement_2002
4. Economy
5. Family relationship, etc

In my political understanding, “belongingness” is what it lets people go in conflict. Tigrigna people belong to no one except are Eritreans. Tigrigna people can not in Assab and claim that it belongs to them. The same is true for Afar.

But, as Eritreans, everyone has an obligation to protect the sovereign country called Eritrea.

But there is no limit for people’s movement in a sovereign country. People have a right to move all over Eritrea and live according to the country’s rule.

What I am saying is not different than the concept of United states of America which might be different from that of Unitary States -there is a proposal writen at awate about this topic.

Here in France for example, there are 13 regions which have almost an autonomous rule. Each region has its own flag and governor.

Anyway, here we can refer what Afar State is expected to be according to its advocators.






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